Bushes' Home Turf Loses Out in Bid to Host Presidential Library

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

West Texas, where George W. and Laura Bush grew up and met, was dropped from consideration as a site for the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Former commerce secretary Donald L. Evans, a West Texan himself and chairman of the presidential site-selection committee, delivered the bad news in a letter late last week.

"This was a difficult decision for the committee," Evans wrote to David A. Miller, chairman of the West Texas Coalition, which represented Texas Tech University in Lubbock and Midland College in Midland. "Your team has brought to light many important ideas, and it is our hope that the final selection and site will make you and the institutions you represent proud."

The West Texas Coalition had proposed a contemporary-style or Spanish Renaissance library on 100 acres west of Texas Tech's Health Science Center and, at Midland College, a Laura Welch Bush Center for Early Literacy.

Still in the running as library sites are Southern Methodist University in Dallas (Laura Bush's alma mater), the University of Dallas and Baylor University in Waco. Although SMU has little land available for new building, it is perceived to be the favorite because Laura Bush is a member of the board of trustees.

Longtime Bush adviser Karen Hughes and White House counsel Harriet Miers -- who also is advising the library selection committee -- also possess SMU degrees.

A Dallas lawyer recently sued SMU, alleging that the school used fraud and intimidation to oust residents of a condominium complex east of the campus to make room for the proposed Bush library.

SMU officials have denied the allegations, saying the school started buying the condo units long before a library was in the works. The condo purchases began in 1998, when President Bush was still Gov. Bush. SMU subsequently gained control of the condo board, designated the condos beyond repair and declared it will tear down the 347-unit complex.

One school not mentioned is Texas A&M University, which is home to the George H.W. Bush presidential library.

-- Sylvia Moreno

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