Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

War Memorial Complex Nixed for Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

War Memorial Complex Nixed for Oklahoma

Article excerpt

OKMULGEE, Okla. (AP) - Promoters of a $150 million war memorial complex in Okmulgee County said Monday they are backing out of a commitment to locate the museum in Oklahoma because of a problem with transferring 300 acres to the Institute for the Study of American Wars.

But Lt. Gov. Robert S. Kerr III and Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce officials said there is no problem, and that they are dismayed by the announcement by John Radell, chairman of the Wilmington, Del., group.

Kerr said the Institute for the Study of American Wars appeared to be ``reneging on what I think would be a firm commitment to our state.''

Radell said groups from Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Pennsylvania would have until May 26 to submit new proposals for the complex. Oklahoma and Arizona were announced as finalists before the Institute for the Study of American Wars announced March 7 it would locate at a site south of Tulsa.

``There's no reason to reopen or resubmit,'' said Ray Wheatley, vice president for economic development for the Okmulgee chamber. ``We have held our end of the bargain.

``The land is not a problem. We can give them the land. Why they continue to say the land is a problem remains to be seen.''

Radell denied speculation by some officials that the Institute for the Study of American Wars board abandoned its deal with Oklahoma because of a better offer from elsewhere.

He said the board decided to reopen its site selection process ``when it was learned on April 14, 1989, that the Oklahoma State Constitution prohibits transfer of ownership of land from the state to nonprofit organizations.''

Radell said the board decided all states must have the same opportunity to resubmit proposals.

``ISAW (Institute for the Study of American Wars) regrets this delay but must abide by the rules of the site selection process and we welcome and encourage all four states to resubmit,'' he said.

Radell said he is convinced the project will be built, and he said Oklahoma remains in the running. …

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