Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Veterans Want to Turn Destroyer into Floating Museum; Jacksonville Group Hopes a Banquet Will Kick off the Fundraising Efforts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Navy Veterans Want to Turn Destroyer into Floating Museum; Jacksonville Group Hopes a Banquet Will Kick off the Fundraising Efforts

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

Wayne Misenar remembers his four years aboard the USS Charles F. Adams as being the most memorable as well as the most challenging of his Navy career.

"It was one tribulation after another," he recalled. "But we worked our way through that. We went from being the worst ship at Mayport to being the best ship three years in a row."

For the past few years, Misenar and a collection of other Navy vets have been in the midst of an even more challenging struggle as they battle to save the Adams from destruction. Their goal: Turn the guided-missile destroyer into a floating museum on the St. Johns River.

The problem is the group needs money and a mooring location, each of which seems difficult to get without the other.

Now the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association is trying to push its efforts into high gear, hoping a banquet scheduled for Friday will kick off fundraising while heightening awareness of the project.

"We're trying to show traction," said Bert Watson, a lobbyist working with the group. "We're trying to show we're serious about this, that we have a very capable game plan."

Organizers - mainly Navy veterans with ties to the ship - have been trying to save the Adams for years. When plans to bring it to Tampa fell apart about two years ago, Misenar, a Jacksonville resident, suggested bringing it here.

"This is really something that is important," he said. "I can see this being a huge catalyst for downtown development and growth."

Since then the idea has never taken off, in part because the museum association has been unable to find a spot to moor the craft.

A proposal to temporarily put the Adams at the Shipyards site downtown was rejected this month, leading organizers to fall back to the original plan of putting the ship near the Acosta Bridge, on the south bank of the river, next to the River City Brewing Company.

That location might work better but is still jumping the gun, said Ron Barton, executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

"Our position is show us the financially sustainable business model and then we can talk about the appropriate location," Barton said. "From the beginning, the City Council has made it clear this has to be a no-risk venture as it relates to the taxpayer."

BROADENING EXPERIENCES

The Navy has gotten more rigorous in recent years about reminding museums of their responsibilities with the antique ships. This year South Carolina agreed to loan the Patriots Point museum there $9.3 million to fix up a World War II destroyer, only to find out this month that another $100 million was needed to fix the museum's deteriorating aircraft carrier.

Jacksonville doesn't have to worry, Watson said. The Navy requires the association to put money in an escrow account in case the ship needs to be towed away, and the association hasn't asked the city to become an owner or kick in any money for the project. …

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