Yesterday, it was announced that the long discussed and long rumored merger of the Route 66 Alliance and the National Historic Route 66 Association were about to become fact. It was also announced that the entity created from the merger would be operating under the name U.S. 66 Highway Association and that the new organization was registering the names Route 66 Association and Highway 66 Association.
At this juncture I would be quite remiss if a bit of clarification wasn’t provided. First, I can not and will not speak on behalf of the steering committee.
Second, even though this merger has been the topic of discussion for quite some time, and even though two individuals involved with the merger are are also serving on the steering committee facilitated by the World Monuments Fund and the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, that committee played no role in this merger. In fact, in conversations with a few steering committee members I spoke with this morning it became apparent that the Route 66 community learned of the merger at the same time.
Obviously the resultant conflict of interest could become an issue. At this time, however, it appears that the steering committee will move forward with plans to finalize the unanimously approved draft statement of mission and goals crafted in Albuquerque for the establishment of “…one professionally led, representative body.”
As noted previously, the steering committee is not to serve as that organization, it is merely meant as the means to facilitate its creation, organization, and development. This includes face-to-face forums, stakeholder meetings within the Route 66 community, and public discussions to ensure transparency.
A schedule for those meetings and public discussions will be finalized shortly. The delay was resultant of the holidays and the need to ensure the committee approved of the final statement pertaining to the creation of a new, representative organization derived from the meeting in Albuquerque.
This takes me to two of the most often asked questions since the release of the statement about the merger. The first of these is a recurrent question pertaining to the make up of the steering committee.
The simple answer is this; to ensure the past and future needs of the Route 66 community were considered in the development of the drafting of a mission and goals statement for the creation of an organization built on a clean foundation, representatives from a diverse spectrum of interests ranging from state, federal, and local government to tourism, business interests, and non profit organizations associated with historic preservation were selected.
The second question is also a recurring one. However, the recent closure of the Gasconade Bridge in Missouri enables me to answer it in the form of an illustrated lesson.
As envisioned this newly minted organization would facilitate grass roots initiatives such as the Gasconade Bridge preservation endeavor, and provide assistance to those individually developed. It would also streamline those initiatives to maximum resources, and provide organizational assistance.
In addition, this organization should be proactive instead of reactive. As an example, endeavors to preserve endangered bridges should commence before, not after, closure.
That is but one example of why an umbrella organization that can provide an array of assistance to the Route 66 community is needed. Finally, this new entity is envisioned as a resource, not a replacement, for existing Route 66 associations or the organization created through the merger of the Route 66 Alliance and National Historic Route 66 Federation. It is also supposed to be a resource for tourism offices, tour companies, media, state and local governments, and the international Route 66 community.
As always, I would like to hear your thoughts ideas and suggestions. I will respond but there may be a bit of a delay. Until the 20th of this month we will be on the road.