01/11/12 — Air force museum committee has first meeting

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Air force museum committee has first meeting

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on January 11, 2012 1:46 PM

Goldsboro's Air Force museum concept took another step toward reality Tuesday afternoon as the Air Force Museum Citizen Committee held its first meeting in the anteroom of City Hall.

The 10-person committee passed through its agenda in just about an hour as Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan provided background on the project's history and members introduced themselves, but the committee won't waste any time with its charge of putting together a plan for the museum concept.

Ms. Logan said she hoped to have a preliminary proposal outline to share with consultants by next week. Those consultants will have two to three weeks to respond with plans for public surveys. City staff will select three firms for the committee to interview.

The idea, Ms. Logan explained after the meeting, was for the consultant to guide a process including community meetings and other forms of information gathering to gauge what the public wants in an Air Force museum. Ideally, the consultant firm will also have architects on staff to provide more detailed explanations of what renovations to the building will be required. Preliminary estimates last spring ranged from about $600,000 to $1.4 million. That is in addition to the $500,000 used to purchase the building.

Ms. Logan and various other members who spoke said they should aim to publicize the fact that the money spent on the purchase of the building and any renovations, consultant work or operating expenditures would come from the Occupancy Tax fund, a coffer created in 1991 made up of taxes levied on hotel customers with the intent of one day funding a civic center for the city. The fund currently has $1.7 million in it, according to a document provided in the committee's agenda packet.

Further funding options were discussed at the meeting, including the possibility of Golden LEAF grants or money from the state, although all parties there agreed those options wouldn't be available until the museum is nearly completed. It has been reported that the state put about $1 million into the Havelock Tourist and Event Center, although that was during a more favorable economic climate.

Chairman Jimmie Edmundson led off the meeting talking about the importance of getting an Air Force museum for the area, citing visits to other high-profile military bases where museums were always nearby chronicling the history of that base.

"Since 9/11 we've really been thinking about how we can do it," he said, adding Seymour Johnson Air Force Base rarely gets the publicity of nearby Fort Bragg or Camp Lejeune.

He also stressed how Goldsboro's concept for a museum won't be impacted by what other museums have.

"We're not out about spending millions and millions of dollars building a building to hang airplanes from," he said, adding the concept for the museum never included hanging aircraft.

He explained that Heritage Park, on Seymour Johnson, had nearly every plane ever flown at the base, so there was no need to have planes on display at the city museum.

He also discredited early attempts to put the museum on the base, citing a security nightmare for base personnel in a post-9/11 world.

Plans to connect the Air Force museum at the intersection of Spence Avenue and Ash Street to Heritage Park would likely include bus tours that would shuttle between the two.

Ms. Logan shared a timetable for the committee, showing she hoped to have a consultant recommendation for the council by mid-February and that within six to nine months, the council would likely be voting on whether to move forward with the project.

The committee, which as a City Council-appointed standing committee is a public meeting subject to N.C. Open Meetings Law, will meet Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m. as needed.