By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
A new $130 million military museum will be built at the main entrance to Fort Hood, officials announced Thursday.
The National Museum for Mounted Warfare and Soldier Center will be between 85,000 and 100,000 square feet. The final size will determine the precise location in the field, which is located near the Fort Hood Visitors Center and the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment Stables on T.J. Mills Boulevard.
"The site offers many collaborative opportunities," said retired Lt. Gen.
Paul Funk, president of the National Mounted Warfare Foundation and a former commander of III Corps and Fort Hood.
One of eight locations under consideration, the final site was chosen because of its accessibility to U.S. Highway 190, the post and the civilian community.
The concept for a proposed museum to honor the soldiers of Central Texas began a year ago with the help of seed money from the Killeen Economic Development Corporation.
"The museum is a partnership effort between Fort Hood and the city of Killeen and Central Texas as a whole," said Bill Kliewer, chairman of the foundation. "We envision a large museum that will honor our heroic soldiers, past and present, the units in which they served, and the wonderful Central Texas community that they call home."
With a site now selected, foundation officials will turn their attention toward fundraising for the facility. "We have planned a regional, national and even international fundraising effort," said Funk. "That is appropriate given the impact of those who have served here."
Economic forecasts estimate the construction phase of the museum will bring about 550 construction-related jobs to the community, which could pay more than $49 million, said Kliewer.
Once the facility opens, the total economic impact is estimated at $4.5 million and will create about 60 new jobs.
During its first year of operation, the museum is expected to attract 265,000 visitors but opening day is still seven or eight years away, said Kliewer.
"The museum will be an integral component of the entire Central Texas community," said Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock. "A large, technologically advanced, state-of-the art museum will certainly generate a great deal of interest and draw many visitors to our area."
While the Army is able to provide land for the museum, it cannot invest in the building, said Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood.
"We can provide the site; we can pay for services that the museum and soldier center provide to us," he said. "We can provide artifacts."
To gauge the new museum's physical dimensions, the two existing museums at Fort Hood are a combined 6,500 square feet and are dedicated to the 1st Cavalry Division and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Campbell said all artifacts and staff for these museums will move into the new one when it opens, and the old museums will close.
"If there was ever a military installation and a community who created history worthy of commemorating together, this is that place," said Campbell.
For more information on the project, go to www.mountedwarfarefoundation.org.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.