The group that’s raising money to build a Medal of Honor Museum near the Yorktown continues to get questions over its plan to use state funds to help move a road.
It's a key question, because the project can't proceed without relocating a section of Patriots Point Boulevard, and the Medal of Honor Foundation doesn't have the money for its share without the state's financial support.
The issue came up during a meeting of Mount Pleasant Town Council's Planning Committee on Tuesday. Committee chairman Joe Bustos called on Bill Craver, the attorney for the Patriot Point Development Authority, to shed some light on the question.
Patriots Point, a state agency, owns the site where the museum would be built and is leasing it to the foundation for a token amount. The terms for moving the road include setting up an escrow account from all the parties involved.
In the interchange with Craver, Bustos said, "In actuality we don’t know whether the $5 million can be used or cannot be used."
"I don’t know," Craver responded. "That’s between them and the State of South Carolina. If they write the check and we put it in escrow, we’re going to assume everything’s OK."
Council member GM Whitley asked foundation CEO Joe Daniels to answer the question.
"The money was granted for construction including ... all the related infrastructure and design of the museum," Daniels said. "What I stated at the PPDA (Patriots Point board) meeting is that we are absolutely sure that four million of the five million can be used for ... the road relocation. We are investigating the last million because it seems that it may be a little more constrained specifically to the exhibits."
Bustos said after the meeting that he still believes the state money can't be used for the road and will continue to research it.
Patriots Point won't ask the foundation for the money for the escrow account until everybody with an interest in moving the road signs an agreement, Craver said. Five parties who control rights of way are involved — the town of Mount Pleasant, Patriots Point Development Authority, the College of Charleston, the Medal of Honor Foundation and developer Patriots Point Annex that’s planning a resort near the museum site.
The lease contains a Nov. 30 deadline for collecting the escrow money and starting to move the road. If that deadline is not met because the agreement is not signed, that won't invalidate the lease, Craver said.
Looking ahead, the lease also specifies that the foundation must raise the full amount to build the museum before construction can start. That amount would be $125 million based on the current design. Plus, the foundation must have enough money in hand to cover the cost of demolition if the museum is started but not finished.
Requiring all the money up front protects Patriots Point, Craver said.