The realignment of Patriots Point Boulevard for the Medal of Honor Museum was supposed to start last week. It didn’t. And it’s highly unlikely museum construction will start by July 2020, or that the museum will open at Patriots Point by 2023.
So at this point, the Patriots Point Development Authority might as well tear up its 10-year contract with the Medal of Honor Foundation and the Medal of Honor Society. It’s effectively meaningless anyway. And a reset might be the only way to move things forward.
After several false starts over nearly six years, the foundation decided this fall to start looking at locations other than Mount Pleasant for the museum, even though Patriots Point laid out its red carpet and the state put up $5 million toward the $100 million-plus project.
Members of the Medal of Honor Society are understandably frustrated at having their aspirations for a national museum stymied. And Mount Pleasant town officials, who have been blamed rightly or wrongly for some of the setbacks, might not have many options left to improve the state of affairs short of dropping any opposition to the museum’s design, which doesn’t fit the town’s zoning for the site.
Even that might not be enough. When foundation CEO Joe Daniels decided against submitting a revised design to the Town Council late last summer, Mayor Will Haynie said he asked him if he would change his mind about exploring other locations if the council were to immediately approve the design. The answer, he said, was “no.”
Councilman Tom O’Rourke said, “I think we’ve done all we can do.”
Mr. Daniels says he’s still “swinging for the fences” and wants to bring the stories of the nation’s war heroes to as many people as possible. That could mean building the museum in a bigger market, he said, adding that he recently looked at locations in and around New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Diego.
Once the “research phase” is over, he said he wants Mount Pleasant to submit a proposal, and if the foundation settles on a different location, it would refund the $5 million the state put up for the museum and the road realignment.
That would be a shame.
Winding down the three-way contract between the development authority, the society and the foundation wouldn’t necessarily mean the loss of the museum, but it would free all parties to start over from scratch.
And, as Mayor Haynie pointed out, if the contract isn’t voided or revamped, the foundation would eventually be liable for a lease on a piece of commercial property at Patriots Point.
If Mount Pleasant and Patriots Point officials are confident Mount Pleasant remains the ideal place for the Medal of Honor Museum — and they should be — then there’s little to fear from a reset. And any progress would be better than the current stalemate.