The United States Marshals Museum (USMM) has begun construction on its new $50 million location on the banks of the Arkansas River near downtown Fort Smith. For USMM President and CEO Patrick Weeks, Thursday (July 26) marked a “big day” in the completion of the project.
“It’s been 11 years. We’re now sitting here in mid-2018, and we’re finally not just breaking ground — we’ve done that, last year we spent just about $900,000 on bringing in 53,000 cubic yards of dirt to build the building pad out and put that through a settlement period — but now we’re getting ready to start another $18.2 million of construction,” Weeks told Talk Business & Politics, adding that Thursday’s earth-moving was “the start of it.”
Weeks said passers-by could expect the next piece to be “when we start to pour concrete for the footings of the actual building, and that’ll be at the end of August or beginning of September, depending on how the weather and everything else works out.”
He continued: “Right now, we’re going to see a lot of dirt moving. We’re going to see this thing flatten out after a little bit. Next week, we’ll see the construction trailers come in. We’re going to start to see a lot more people on this site — electricians, plumbers, that kind of thing, going on to make sure the utilities get to the right places per the plans. And then, when they get all that underground, under-slab work done, we start to pour concrete and we’ll go from there.”
In six months, Weeks believes “we have steel standing up and some overhead structures in place.”
“By the time six months from now comes, we’re going to understand the shape and size of the building,” he added. “It’s been a long time coming, but it’s been the right time coming. In my experience, these things take a little bit of time. And so now, we are where we are. We still have $17.8 million left to raise, but this is going to help it.”
USMM Foundation Chairman Robert A. Young III said fundraising goals were “within reach” and expressed gratitude to current donors and contributors.
“We are making great strides, and are energized to build this iconic Museum of which all Americans can be proud.”
USMM Board Chairman Doug Babb said he was excited with Thursday’s activity.
“We all look forward to the Museum opening in the fall of 2019 and what it will mean for tourism and economic impact for the city of Fort Smith.”
In January 2007, the U.S. Marshals Service selected Fort Smith as the site for the national museum. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in September 2015 on a site near the Arkansas River in downtown Fort Smith, and museum officials initially hoped to have the facility open by late 2017. Fundraising delays have pushed the opening date of the estimated 50,000-square-foot facility to September 2019.
The hard date of Sept. 24, 2019, continues to hold as the USMM’s opening in time for the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals formation. CDI Contractors completed preliminary site work on the building pad in the fall of 2017. Once complete, the 53,000-square-foot Mary Carleton and Robert A. Young III Building will pay tribute to the country’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.
The museum will feature five immersive galleries: Defining Marshals; The Campfire: Stories Under the Stars; Frontier Marshals; A Changing Nation; and Modern Marshals. It will also include a National Learning Center, Hall of Honor, conference rooms, general office space, retail space and a large lobby for community partnerships. Additionally, it will feature an exterior dining area, green-space, full-service restaurant, and a monument donated by the Five Tribes. Los Angeles-based Thinkwell: The Experience Co. are designers of the exhibit and will use subcontractors for the installations.