- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

The Army needs $120 million from the Fairfax County government and private donors to complete its national museum at Fort Belvoir, Army representatives told county officials yesterday.

The Army National Museum, scheduled for completion in 2009, will cost more than $200 million and is slated to be built on 60 acres adjacent U.S. Route 1. Supporters of the museum say it will attract 1 million visitors to the county each year.

The U.S. Army Center of Military History is investing $95 million, but group’s executive director — retired Brig. Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr. — bluntly told the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that it will need to chip in for the project to go forward.

Gen. Abrams challenged the board to raise funds for the museum and to drum up support among local businesses.

“That was the most effective job of lobbying that has been done here in some time,” Board Chairman Katherine K. Hanley told him.

The $120 million is needed by 2007 to build a complex that will house a 250,000-square-foot central museum, a 145,000-square-foot support center, a parking structure for more than 700 cars, a parade ground and a memorial walkway. The complex will have a staff of more than 150.

The Army envisions an interactive museum with night-vision, tank-driving and flight simulators; multimedia presentations of Army history; and traditional exhibits, such as Revolutionary War uniforms. The museum would centralize displays and information that are currently spread throughout the country at 50 or so smaller museums.

“For Fairfax County County, this is a major coup to have the Army National Museum within its borders,” said Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland, Mount Vernon Democrat and a retired Air Force colonel.

Mr. Hyland led the effort to lobby Congress and the Army to place the museum at Fort Belvoir.

The museum also would be a boon to the economy in the Fort Belvoir area, said Gerald L. Gordon, president of the county’s Economic Development Authority.

“This is motherhood and apple pie. It’s the greatest thing,” he said. “That’s an area with a lot of small businesses that are struggling and need a shot in the arm.”

The Army Historical Foundation, a private nonprofit group, is seeking donations from individuals, corporations and foundations, as well as the county and state governments.

But Supervisor Gerald Connolly, Providence Democrat, said only the state would be able to support the project financially.

“The board wants to be supportive, but in tough budget times it’s a question of priorities and available resources. That’s not an issue we could resolve positively for the next few years,” Mr. Connolly said.

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