Council reviews plan for museum
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 8, 2011 1:46 PM
The City Council had its first look at plans for the proposed Air Force museum Monday night as 4th Fighter Wing historian Doc Heidicker presented a schematic showing initial ideas for a chronological walking tour through the museum that would showcase the history of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
The plans provided for suspending a less than actual size F-15E shooting down a Desert Storm-era Iraqi helicopter, two mini theaters and the relocation of the F-80 from the police and fire complex to the museum's parking lot. It also features an electronic P-51 Mustang above the fountain, which would simulate shooting at a German war plane each half hour, complete with water jets to show machine gun impacts.
Heidicker guided the council through a tour of the proposed plans and said the only problem he foresaw with the idea was finding enough hotel rooms to house all of the visitors to the museum.
"This will be the kind of venue that will draw people to Goldsboro and Wayne County," he said.
Heidicker's presentation supplemented a 31-page report from the museum exploratory committee, which accompanied each council member's agenda packet and set basic standards for what would need to be done to make the museum dream a reality.
The report indicated that David Goist, a conservator from Raleigh who conducted the assessment for the museum, suggested the first steps toward the museum would be to create a mission statement and name for the proposed project and identify 15 to 20 individuals to serve as trustees on a governing board. It also set forth initial ideas for nine full-time and part-time staff positions Goist felt were needed.
The report also identified 12 repair and renovation steps to be completed before the museum could be implemented, including replacing the membrane roof, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, windows and confirming that the elevators and bathrooms meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Mayor Pro-tem Chuck Allen said he had spoken with Dick Anderegg, the director of Air Force history and museums in Washington, D.C., when he was at the Pentagon for Seymour Johnson's James H. Doolittle Award presentation.
Anderegg, himself the first pilot to fly a Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson, Heidicker said, stressed three factors that would allow the museum to be successful -- location, a strong foundation of support and an educational component.
"He said the fundamental problem with some museums happens when they hire a fundraiser first instead of an educator," he said.
Allen said having an education professional to handle school visits and to develop programs that stressed science, technology, engineering and mathematics had emerged as critical in other museum projects, but Anderegg's second tip, generating support, seems to be the next step the council wants to take.
District 2 Councilman Bob Waller said there were still questions about the project from possible supporters since nothing was set in stone yet about the project.
"They're still asking what the idea is," he said. "We need to make it known that this is not a Goldsboro city project, but a Wayne County project."
He mentioned contacting Mount Olive, Fremont and Pikeville to see if town officials were interested in supporting the project.
Fremont Town Administrator Gary McDuffie said Tuesday that the museum sounded like a great idea, but that the town's budget was "very tight."
"They've made no requests to the town as of this time and any decision like that would be made by the town board," he said, stressing that he, himself, would not make any decisions and that he couldn't guarantee what the board would say. "It's a very good project to honor the military and all that they've done, but Fremont is in a not good financial situation right now."
Kathie P. Fields, Pikeville's town administrator, had a similar assessment, although she said the board's strong military connection could mean there was a chance for the town to support the project, if a presentation were made.
"Funding is tight, but if they would talk to me and give me a presentation and some insight then I could talk to the board," she said, suggesting the project presenters could even address the board personally. "I'm not opposed to doing anything and the board is really military-oriented so it may be something they would be interested in supporting."
During conversations about the soliciting of funds from other municipalities, Heidicker mentioned he had an 11-minute film presentation that could be used when approaching other communities as a video element in the city's pitch, but Interim City Manager Tasha Logan said such presentations should wait.
"It's still a little soon to do that," she said.