- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park will be making its way to a long-envisioned new building, as the St. Mary’s County commissioners selected a building contractor Tuesday.
Broughton Construction of Washington, D.C., was awarded the $4.6 million building contract.
“This has been 20 years in the making,” said Joe Dunn, member of the museum’s board of trustees and new building liaison with county government.
The original museum was on Patuxent River Naval Air Station property before the expansion of Route 235 began in 1999. That building was demolished to make room for the road and the facility was moved to its present location outside of Gate 1 in 2001.
St. Mary’s County government, federal and state elected officials and the museum association worked together to raise funds for a new building.
The initial bids on a new museum came in about $1.5 million too high about five years ago, Dunn said, and the museum board went back to pare down the design to lower the cost.
The reconfigured building “won’t be all glass and wings at odd angles,” said George Erichsen, director of public works and transportation, like the original design.
The Maryland State Highway Administration needs to agree before work can begin because state money is involved. Once the state approves the bidder, Broughton Construction can get started this summer, Dunn said. Construction should take about one year, and then the museum association needs four to six months to outfit it. The new museum and visitors center could be open by “early 2014. That’s a guess,” Dunn said.
“We’re absolutely excited. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can see it as a gateway to the base. We see it as a destination,” he said.
The museum was tasked to raise $1.5 million in donations and reached that goal.
Now in order to execute the contract, the museum needs to provide $944,565, a county government memo states.
Federal dollars contribute $3.4 million for the project, with $350,000 from the state and $484,018 from the county government.
The department of public works and transportation already built the site pad, paid for with $600,000 of money raised through the museum, Dunn said.
In a memorandum to the commissioners, Erichsen wrote, “The State Highway Administration, under the terms of the grant, would not allow the county’s local vendor preference policy for this federal and state funded project.”
St. Mary’s County government adopted a local vendor procurement policy this year under which a local business can be selected for a job, even though it’s not the lowest bidder.
Commissioner Cindy Jones (R) said her children were excited to visit the new museum and its exhibits of jets and other aircraft.
Commission President Jack Russell (D) said of the museum project’s time on the shelf, “The county has aged considerably since its inception.”