Patriot's Point commits $1 million for Hunley
BY DAVID QUICK
Of The Post and Courier staff
JUNE 15, 2001
MOUNT PLEASANT - Patriot's Point
sweetened the deal to house the Confederate submarine Hunley by
offering a $1 million incentive package Thursday, just as a
heritage group said the sub should not be displayed in
Charleston because of Mayor Joseph P. Riley's political views.
The Patriot's Point Development
Authority's offer is contingent on state officials choosing
Patriot's Point for the sub's permanent display and comes in
addition to its earlier promise to provide land for the future
Combined with Mount Pleasant Mayor
Harry Hallman's comments about offering up to $4 million in
hospitality tax money to bring the Hunley across the Cooper
River, the Patriot's Point sweetener brings the town's incentive
package to $5 million, plus land.
"Because the H.L. Hunley is a
natural fit to the existing history and heritage theme and
mission of Patriot's Point, the board feels it is in the best
interest of the authority to commit the money to this
project," board member Ellie Thomas said.
The money will come from Patriot's
Point cash reserves and could be used for site surveys,
engineering and preparation, as well as landscaping and actual
Also on Thursday, Town Council gave
initial approval to a hospitality tax of 2 percent on all
prepared food. The tax is worth an estimated $1.2 million
annually, but none of that has been committed to specific
projects. Hallman expects to begin talks with the Hunley
Commission this summer.
Meanwhile, an official of the state
chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said Riley's stand
against the Confederate battle flag last year disqualifies the
city from hosting the sub.
"The Hunley represents the things
we've always talked about - the regular citizen soldier willing
to die for the defense of their homeland," said Gene Hogan,
chairman of the Heritage Committee of the South Carolina SCV
"It's a fascinating artifact, and
it's something important to the history of South Carolina. And
it's going to be a moneymaker. We're simply stating that because
of some of the things the mayor has said in the past about the
flag. It shows inconsistencies."
Hogan's press release said it would be
hypocritical for Riley to profit off the sub after criticizing
Riley responded that his stand against
the battle flag last year was the right course to follow and
that the Statehouse and public opinion agreed with him.
He also said he is not opposed to
displays of all Confederate flags but was against the battle
flag on the Statehouse because it had been adopted by some
groups as a symbol of hate.
Riley said he advocates the First
National Flag of the Confederacy going on display in front of
the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum at Market Hall once the
restoration is done and the building is reopened.
The flag - also known as the Stars and
Bars - features two red stripes and one white with a field of
blue containing a circle of stars. It was widely dispersed early
in the secession.
As for a flag display for a Hunley
museum in downtown Charleston, Riley said that decision
ultimately will be up to the state Hunley Commission.
"It should be appropriate for the
Hunley museum," he said, "and respectful for the
Hunley, its crew and all South Carolinians."
Riley has suggested the sub be moved to
the Charleston Museum or to a new site near the aquarium.
Hunley Commission Chairman Glen
McConnell said he didn't think Riley's views of the flag would
affect the goal of a historically accurate presentation of the
Hunley, no matter which site is chosen. North Charleston also is
expected to make a bid for the sub.
"We have to do what's best for the
Hunley, and that's what we're going to do," McConnell said.
"We have not voted yet, and we will not make a decision
based on a current office-holder."