To the editor:
I can imagine no event more relevant to Missouri than the national commemoration of the Lewis and Clark expedition. It is unfortunate that we find ourselves in the midst of a controversy surrounding an effort to erect a monument on the Capitol grounds commemorating the event.
A not-for-profit organization, the Jefferson City Lewis and Clark Task Force, raised $200,000 to pay for the statue. The task force sought $800,000 from the Missouri Department of Transportation to prepare and landscape a suitable site.
Opposition to the project that has been expressed may or may not be reasonable. To fairly consider the issue, one needs to resolve two questions: Does the project fall within federal and state guidelines, and does the project have greater merit than others also competing for funds?
More information is needed to answer the first question. As for the second, it is difficult to imagine a competing proposal of greater merit. The statue would be a tremendous complement to the Capitol complex. The expedition of the Corps of Discovery was, after all, the ultimate quest for a transportation route to the Pacific Ocean.
This is not merely a Jefferson City issue. The task force is offering a great asset to the state and should be commended for its offer. If MoDOT funding is denied and the task force chooses to seek funding from other sources, it should enjoy universal support of every Missouri citizen.
River Valley Development Committee
Jefferson City, Mo.