Air/Land/Sea Historic Park and Technology Center
at Quonset Point, R.I.
What will it be?
Developing this not-for-profit facility will transform approximately 10 acres at the southwest corner of the old naval air station into an exciting historic attraction and family recreation center. This park will recreate major events in the military history of Rhode Island and of the nation. The National Air/Land/Sea Combat Museum will honor members of all services who have fought to keep our country free, while the Public Service Heritage Center will salute Rhode Island's civilian heroes from law enforcement, firefighting and other non-military professions. While the Quonset Air Museum will be the catalyst, crown jewel of the attraction will be the decommissioned USS Saratoga, making Narragansett Bay the home to the very first supercarrier ever opened to the public as a museum. Restoration of the old "Blue Beach" will round out a superb family attraction.
What about the technology center?
To attract and hold the attention of today's youth, a successful museum must be at least as exciting as what's available on the home computer. To that end we intend to encourage experimentation in virtual reality and related 21st century technologies, hopefully partnering with cutting-edge institutions such as the MIT Media Lab.We also envision a state-of-the art vocational training center developed in conjunction with Rhode Island's college and universities, covering topics from aquaculture to sheet metal repair.
When will it happen?
Three years worth of planning, building grass roots support, and performing the due diligence required by the State of Rhode Island and the Navy is coming to a head. We are now at a point where the Saratoga museum project WILL happen if we can raise the money.
We must be able to show we have the financial ability to tow the carrier to Quonset, moor her properly, and maintain her according to exacting Navy standards. Most importantly, we must demonstrate our ability to succesfully operate her as a museum.
We estimate it will take about $8.5 million to open the doors. So far we can identify sources and commitments for approximately $6.5 million.
We are now in the home stretch, attempting to raise the last dollars, not the first. If we could walk into the governor's office tomorrow with another two million dollars, it would be a done deal. We could book passage on the Last Cruise of the Saratoga for next spring, and the ship could conceivably be open on a very limited basis (such as for functions and special events) by this time next year.
But we don't yet have that money, and the events of September 11 will make it more difficult in the short term to raise it.
This is where you come in.
To help, please select this link.
Does this make economic sense?
Even though it is non-profit, this project is a viable, commercial enterprise which will have a significant economic impact on North Kingstown, South County and the state as a whole. It will add about 100 jobs at an average salary of $21,000. There are three other carrier museums in operation today in the United States, and they have averaged 350,000 visitors per year for the past five years. That attendance number will give the region an economic shot in the arm, spending new dollars to buy products and services which in turn will create additional jobs.
Why else should we do this?
What would be a finer celebration of our history and tradition than to develop a world-class museum, an education and entertainment complex, and a family recreation area overlooking Rhode Island's most precious resource, Narragansett Bay? Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen have marched across the fields of Quonset since it first became a military camp in 1893. Additonal tens of thousands of civilian workers put their brains, muscle and sweat behind those servicemen and women over the years. We cannot let their sacrifice be forgotten, and in so doing we have an opportunity through education and cutting-edge technology to help future generations reach their own lofty goals.
How much will it cost?
Early estimates indicate full build-out of the project will be about $15 million. Phase I will cost about $8.5 million, which would include relocation, mooring and restoring enough of the carrier to provide an exciting attraction for the public. Initially that would include the flight deck, the hangar deck, parts of the bridge, and some crew living areas. It would also include development of the first section of the vocational school (aboard the carrier), restoration of Blue Beach and renovation of the Naval Rework Facility Hangar currently occupied by the Quonset Air Museum. Phase I would also include relocation to Quonset of an exciting selection of former carrier-based aircraft to add reality to the displays.
How will you pay for it?
Our plan is to design an attraction which can generate enough cash flow to pay all its expenses from the very first year it opens its doors. The challenge is to raise the initial funding in order to get the doors open. Our goal is to raise $2 million in cash, pledges and in-kind contributions in order to demonstrate the financial viability of the project, both to the Navy and to the citizens of Rhode Island. With that kind of "seed money" we could make a good case for matching funds from a number of federal and state programs.
Can you raise that kind of seed money?
We think so. In 1995 the USS Saratoga Association worked with a dedicated group of civic leaders in an attempt to turn Sara into a museum in Jacksonville. This was a $7 million project, because Jacksonville did not have a carrier pier, and dredging was needed in order to get the ship up the St. Johns River to the chosen site. This fund raising effort raised more than $6.5 million in cash, pledges and loans,.falling short by less than $500,000. Since many of those pledges were made to "Save Sara", they were not location-specific and can be renewed.
How can we help?
Money, in-kind services, volunteer your time.