Ongoing plans to establish a museum and educational center commemorating the Inland Northwest's aerospace and military history could be modified to move that facility's location from a site just west of Spokane International Airport to the Felts Field Airport, in East Spokane.
The Armed Forces & Aerospace Museum Society board of directors is researching an option to develop the planned museum on a site that's part of the Felts Field campus, says its president, Tony DeLateur.
"We are still in detailed studies of what the restoration and rejuvenation of the Felts Field Historic District would mean, and our participation in it," DeLateur says. "There is nothing official at the present time regarding the partnership; neither board has passed on any definitive action."
He says the museum board is working closely with SIA Executive Director Larry Krauter on a proposal that would place the museum at Felts Field as part of a broader, emerging effort by the Spokane Airport Board to complete major upgrades there in the future.
In a recent newsletter, the Armed Forces & Aerospace Museum Society said housing the museum at Felts Field would enable it to host special events there, such as fly-ins and other educational programs.
Established in 1927, Felts Field is located at 6105 E. Rutter and served as Spokane's municipal airport in the 1930s and 1940s, the airport's website says.
Felts Field now serves as a general aviation airport with more than 300 small aircraft based there.
DeLateur says the 3-acre West Plains site near SIA, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Thomas Mallen Road and Geiger Boulevard, is still in play as a potential location for the museum.
He says the benefits of that site, which would need to be purchased by the museum board if selected, are its high visibility from Interstate 90, its close proximity to the airport, and ease of access.
One of the benefits of the Felts Field site, he says, would be the historic setting, which would complement the organization's mission.
"Part of our mission is to preserve and present significant Spokane military historic events, documents, and artifacts," he says.
DeLateur says no decision has been made regarding whether or not the museum board would purchase or lease space at Felts Field.
The first phase of construction of the envisioned 117,000-square-foot museum has been estimated to cost around $4 million, and DeLateur says part of the ongoing study will narrow the project's cost estimates. He says the museum board continues to raise funds for the effort. A specific campaign isn't under way at this time, though a capital campaign has been discussed.
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