Development of this not-for-profit facility will transform approximately 10 acres at the southwest corner of the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station into an exciting historic attraction and family recreation center. This park will commemorate major events in the military history of Rhode Island and of the nation. The National Air/Land/Sea Combat Museum will honor members of all services who have fought to keep our country free, while the Public Service Heritage Center will salute Rhode Island's civilian heroes from law enforcement, firefighting and other non-military professions. While the nearby Quonset Air Museum (only 2000 feet away) will be the catalyst, the crown jewel of the attraction will be the decommissioned USS Saratoga, making Narragansett Bay the home of the very first supercarrier ever open to the public as a museum. Restoration of the old Blue Beach will round out a superb family attraction.
The USS Saratoga, currently moored at Coddington Cove, Naval Station Newport (NAVSTA Newport), will be moored on one side of a carrier pier and will function as the centerpiece of the attraction. Plans include the preservation and renovation of historic buildings including the Mitchell Mobile Hangar and the Naval Air Rework Facility hangar (now home to the Quonset Air Museum). Projected opening of Phase I to the public is Spring, 2001.
The Park's military elements will include recognition of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Expressions of support and encouragement have been received from each of those services.
Educational facilities and programs for all ages make up key components of the plan. The Air/Land/Sea Historic Park and Technology Center intends to become a major educational resource for surrounding towns, the State and the region. A vocational school and other business development programs will create jobs, train workers and make the rest of the park more attractive for industry.
A rough estimate of the total built-out project cost is $15 million, a significant portion of which would be generated from earned revenue in future years. To provide an attraction of sufficient scope and quality to generate strong attendance, Phase I development will be in the $7.5 million range. This critical mass would include towing and mooring the carrier and preparing key spaces (such as the bridge, flight deck and hangar deck) for public viewing. Phase I would also include renovation of the Quonset Air Museum hangar, development of a centerpiece Park entrance, refurbishment of the machine shops aboard the carrier to open the first stage of the vocations school, and redevelopment of Blue Beach as a public recreation area.
In addition to putting people to work immediately on construction, the Park creates 60 other direct jobs within two years, and 100 direct jobs within five years. These are full-time, well-paying positions averaging $22,000 per year.
Based on the combination of resident visitation, penetration of the existing tourist market, generation of new tourists and attraction of pass-through travelers, a stable year attendance projection is 550,000 visitors.
These visitors will have a direct, indirect and induced impact of more than $35 million annually on the Rhode Island economy, resulting in the creation of a total of over 650 jobs.
What would be a finer celebration of our history and tradition than to develop a world-class museum, an education and entertainment complex, and a family recreation area overlooking Rhode Island's most precious resource, Narragansett Bay? Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen have marched across the fields of Quonset since it first became a military camp in 1893. Additional tens of thousands of civilian workers put their brains, muscle and sweat behind those servicemen and women over the years. We cannot let their sacrifice be forgotten, and in so doing we have an opportunity through education and cutting-edge technology to help future generations reach their own lofty goals.
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