BY SCHUYLER KROPF
Of The Post and Courier Staff
HDCommunity bids for Hunley museum due by Feb. 15
The three cities competing to host the Confederate submarine H. L.
Hunley museum have less than a month to submit their bid packages.
Feb. 15 is the cut-off date for Charleston, Mount Pleasant and North
Charleston to file their proposals.
State Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, chairman of the state Hunley
Commission, said that once the packages are filed, an evaluation process will
begin that will hinge greatly on the promotion of two key areas: long-term
conservation and display of the submarine, and keeping the Hunley a
high-profile tourism draw.
That also includes any potential "endowment, fund-raising
capabilities and ... flow of spectators to keep the project solvent,"
The Hunley, now being housed at the Warren Lasch Conservation Lab in
North Charleston, is expected to be a major tourism draw when it goes on
public display once the sub is treated for exposure after 136 years on the sea
The three packages first will be evaluated for content by a review
subcommittee. Its members include McConnell, and fellow Hunley Commission
members Randy Burbage, state Rep. Chip Limehouse and (Ret.) Adm. William L.
"We will go through those and make sure all the questions are
answered and we have a clear picture of what each is offering," McConnell
Each city can then give oral presentations to the full commission.
McConnell said the process will be open to the public.
The selection will be made based on merit as the commission members
evaluate the proposals.
"We're going to make it clear to all parties that (the choice) is
clearly within the discretion of the commission," McConnell said. The
team of scientists studying the sub also will be consulted.
McConnell said he has spoken with the three city mayors in the past
week, and all indicated high interest. The design details have been outlined
in letters sent to all three cities.
In addition to housing the Hunley, the building must be designed to
feature a Civil War maritime museum. The total size is projected to be at
least 40,000 square feet. Water access is mandatory because McConnell
envisions the museum featuring a scale, working reproduction of the sub.
Mount Pleasant is offering space near Patriot's Point, Charleston is
offering a site near the S.C. Aquarium, and North Charleston wants the Hunley
museum incorporated as part of the Noisette Project redevelopment of the
former Charleston Navy Base.
Last week the Patriot's Point Development Authority heard a presentation
by the Mount Pleasant-based engineering firm of Seamon, Whiteside &
Associates on the proposed museum.
Because of the competitive contractual nature of the information, the
authority's board decided to not let the press see the specifics.
"This is sensitive information," said Patriot's Point
Executive Director David Burnette.
David Quick of The Post and Courier staff contributed to this report.
Used with permission of The Post and
Courier and Charleston.Net