Heritage Harbor Loses Key Supporter

Providence – A key supporter of the Heritage Harbor Museum of state history is withdrawing from the project, at a time of increasing concerns about its financial feasibility. Museum officials insist the decision by the Rhode Island Historical Society will not affect museum programs or its scheduled opening in late 2005.

"It really doesn't have any impact on the design or program of the museum at this point. When Heritage Harbor became its own organization in 1996 and as more and more members were added to the consortium, the Rhode Island Historic Society was playing a decreasing role in regards to input into museum design," said Heritage Harbor CEO Mark Davis.

There are 19 other organizations included in the consortium that will govern the Heritage Harbor Museum.

Some members of the Providence City Council have raised questions about Heritage Harbor financial projections. That's because of city plans to underwrite a federal loan to the museum. More than half of museum operating funds would come from admission receipts. A tax on tickets would also pay off the loan. The museum did win approval of $5-million in funding financed by a state bond sale in the November election.

"In any project of this size there will always be detractors in the community. But I must say because of the passage of the bond it showed broad public support for the project from a financial perspective. We are actually moving forward on a lot of fronts in our fundraising that will actually be successful for us," said Davis, who stresses that Heritage Harbor has raised $43-million out of the $59-million.

Heritage Harbor CEO spoke with WRNI's Deborah Becker on Morning Edition