10/19/12 — Ground it now: It's obvious that plans for a new museum are flying out of control

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Ground it now: It's obvious that plans for a new museum are flying out of control

If we had a whistle, we would blow it -- and get a bullhorn to make certain that what we are about to say is heard loud and clear.

And we suspect that many of you would join us in our call to arms.

During a recent presentation by the consultants hired to create a plan for a future Air Force museum at the site of the former Arts Council of Wayne County building, one of the presenters told members of the committee that they should "tell them now" if the numbers they are presenting are too high and if the plan should be altered accordingly.

And since no one seems to want to come out and say it officially, we have decided to speak up as the unofficial voice of the taxpayers of Wayne County.

We are telling you now. It is time to say "when."

The absolute shocker of a price tag being presented for this Air Force museum plan -- and the new plan to consider purchasing additional property are more than just a call that perhaps there needs to be a brake put on this project.

It is a sign someone needs to say what everyone in this community -- even, we suspect, some of the members of the committee itself -- are thinking.

This project is not going to fly.

So far, the costs are staggering, not the least of which is the $3.5 million now being posited as the cost of acquiring exhibits -- and that does not even include the normal maintenance costs and proposed staff salaries, which are beyond unrealistic.

A major portion of the plan to pay for this project includes private donations. And while we admit that Wayne County residents are some of the most generous people we know, we cannot imagine them being willing to commit somewhere in the neighborhood of $400,000 every year to keep a museum running.

And to make matters worse, county officials have already made it clear that they have no interest in funding this project, leaving even more reason to wonder just where this revenue is going to come from.

And then there is the building itself.

Sorry folks. When the asbestos abatement, which some officials have denied is necessary, costs almost as much as tearing down the structure, you know you have a problem.

Bottom line is that the city of Goldsboro and its torpedos-be-damned, full-speed-ahead approach has led to a no-win situation and exactly what we -- and many other people -- predicted when this talk first started. The city now owns a white elephant that it had no business buying in the first place and is scrambling to make it work.

But here is the good news.

There is time to set this right.

But it starts with city officials being willing to admit that they made a mistake and that they were forced to act hastily -- for whatever reason, perhaps even a benevolent one -- to make a purchase before they had a fleshed out vision for the project and that now, it is verging on the ridiculous.

It will not be the first time we have scrapped an unrealistic plan.

Remember the city recreation center?

The members of the committee should not be blamed for this debacle.

Many of them offered their services simply to help create a tribute to the airmen who have served so honorably. And that is a good idea -- if it is done efficiently and realistically. They had good intentions.

But city leaders should have known better -- and it takes leaders to put a stop to something that is out of control.

And, this, is out of control.

Published in Editorials on October 19, 2012 10:54 AM