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New Presidential Library part of the plan for Jefferson Barracks' future

6:26 AM, Jan 26, 2010   |    comments
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By Mike Garrity

KSDK -- Could the St. Louis area someday be home to a Presidential Library and Museum?

A new Presidential Library is part of a new vision for the future of Jefferson Barracks.

For the past year, $200,000 have been used to study Jefferson Barracks, and come up with a plan for the future. On Monday night the findings were made public.

"They are pieces of American history," said World War II Veteran Bill Pilger, describing the historic buildings at Jefferson Barracks.

Pilger is all for preserving the barracks' history.

He began is World War II journey by reporting to Jefferson Barracks, and Monday night he was part of a crowd taking in the new 20 year plan.

The plan's aim: to make the entirety - in other words the National Cemetery, the V.A. medical complex, the Army/National Guard base, and the historic county park - all, a national tourist destination.

"Remember at one time Jefferson Barracks was the only military post west of the Mississippi," says St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley, "and so it's got a rich heritage and so we want to showcase that heritage. You know the saying "you've got a diamond in the ruff"? We want to shine it up a little bit and showcase it."

The new plan calls for preservation, for instance turning one aging building into a Citizen-Soldier Museum, and another one into a bed and breakfast.

"There's a whole influx of people that come in here for National Guard weekends and they need a place to stay, and why not have them stay in a historic building on Jefferson Barracks," says Scott Emmelkamp, Project Manager of the planning study.

Fostering new attractions is also part of the plan -- like a Missouri Civil War Museum, set to open at Jefferson Barracks in about a year officials tell us.

In all, the plan calls for investing some $68 million into Jefferson Barracks by 2026. As part of that investment, the plan calls for the construction of a Presidential Library and Museum at Jefferson Barracks in honor of President Grant.

As far as where a Presidential library could be constructed? The plan suggests it be built an open space directly across the street from where the current active Army/National Guard base operates.

"You know the main thing its going to take to get a Grant Library here is the public support. You've got to have a lot of passion, a lot of support to try to get that here," says Emmelkamp.

To support a Grant Presidential Library the St. Louis County Economic Council is the organization to contact.

As far as funding this new Jefferson Barracks plan it will be all about going after private and public dollars for years to come.

Monday night Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-Missouri), for example, announced he has secured federal funding for new signage for Jefferson Barracks.

To check out the entire planning study and vision for Jefferson Barracks, we're told it will soon be posted on the following website: http://www.slcec.com.

KSDK

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