Florida Gov. Rick Scott vetoed money for a Camp Blanding project Friday.
Florida lawmakers had approved more than $1.6 million for expanding and renovating the military museum at Camp Blanding in Clay County.
Read more about state arts and culture funding cuts here.
Post Commander Colonel Matt Johnson said the museum is losing artifacts like clothing items, because the building isn’t climatized. The state money would, among other things, go toward building a storage and restoration center, which would also be a place for college students to study history. He said the property has many old structures that have yet to be excavated.
“Camp Blanding became the fourth largest city in Florida during World War II. There were a lot of soldiers, a lot of civilians out here supporting them. I think there were 23 chapels, eight movie theaters,” he said. “So you have a lot of old structures here where university students could benefit.”
The improvements are planned to be rolled out in four phases, with the $1.6 million earmarked for phase one and another yet-to-be determined phase. The total cost is estimated to be $4.7 million.
Johnson said another phase - which may or may not be funded with the current appropriation - would expand the museum’s exhibits to include more conflicts like Vietnam, Iraq and Desert Storm. Right now it’s focused just on World War II.
“I believe a lot of people see the potential of this Camp Blanding Museum being a Florida military history museum and so people see it as a great asset to the state,” he said.
The overall plan also calls for renovating the current museum, as it’s more than 75 years old, and building a Florida National Guard Heritage Center.
Camp Blanding is still raising money to complete the entire project.
The plan was developed by the Camp Blanding Museum and Historical associates, a volunteer organization that runs the museum.
“The Florida National Guard did not seek an appropriation for this, the historical associates were seeking ways to get the word out about this museum,” Johnson said. “Probably through the video that WJCT helped produce, the word got out to a lot of people in the area, people began to take interest and a House representative put in an appropriation.”
Like the rest of the state budget, the appropriation for the museum must still be approved by Governor Rick Scott.
Watch the Camp Blanding Documentary:
Story updated to include information about Gov. Rick Scott's veto of the project.
Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.