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," McConnell said.
 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 bottom.
 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. Schachte Jr.
 "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 said.
 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



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