By Jeff Fox
A partial shutdown of the federal government would have immediate effects at two well-known attractions that help drive the local economy.
Officials at both the Harry S. Truman Library and the Truman Home in Independence on Monday were making plans to close today if Congress was unable to pass legislation to keep the government in operation. Monday was the last day of the federal government’s fiscal year, and by late in the day, it appeared unlikely that Congress would find an agreement to head off a shutdown.
“We would be closed until we’re told we can open again,” said Michael Devine, director of the Truman Library.
The Truman Home on Delaware just west of the Square also would be closed.
“We’re all hoping this could all be averted,” Mike Ryan, chief of interpretation, said Monday afternoon.
The Truman Library, a cornerstone of local tourism since it opened in 1957, says it draws about 130,000 people a year. The Truman Home, open since 1984, draws about 30,000 people a year, according to the Park Service.
Officials said it wouldn’t take long to reopen the sites when the word comes, but Devine cautioned that all of that depends the specifics of whatever agreement Congress might come up with to resolve the issue.
There are other budget impacts, too. The Truman Home and Visitors Center on the Square, where visitors get their tickets to the home, have been closed Sundays and Monday since late March due to the federal government’s so-called sequestration, that is, across-the-board budget cuts. That’s meant 5 percent for the Park Service.
The Harry S. Truman National Historic Site includes three facilities – the home, the family farm in Grandview where Truman worked many years as a young man, and the Noland Home.
Just last year, the Park Service finished restoring the Noland Home, across the street from the Truman Home. Though not as central to the Truman story as the farm in Grandview, the little house figures in a key story in the courtship of Harry and Bess Truman, and the Park Service used it to tell that story, give tourists another attraction and give them a place to get out of the sun and rain – even use the restroom – while waiting for Truman Home tours.
But the farm and the Noland Home have been closed since late March, also due to sequestration, and whatever Congress works out to resolve this immediate budget crisis is unlikely to change that.
“They have warned us: Expect it to be permanent,” Ryan said.