City panel backs matching funds for F-14 project
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Finance Committee will ask the City Council to match private contributions up to $25,000 to bring a retired F-14 Tomcat naval jet fighter from Minneapolis to Willmar. The jet would eventually be displayed at the new Willmar...
WILLMAR -- The Willmar Finance Committee will ask the City Council to match private contributions up to $25,000 to bring a retired F-14 Tomcat naval jet fighter from Minneapolis to Willmar. The jet would eventually be displayed at the new Willmar Municipal Airport.
The committee discussed the F-14 Tomcat project with other council members Monday night and voted to recommend matching funds be provided. The money would be taken from the 2006 budget, but officials didn't say where the money will be found in the budget.
Project supporters must raise $50,000 by 7 p.m. Monday to cover the cost of demilitarizing -- removing certain components including the two engines -- and bringing the jet to Willmar, according to Willmar City Administrator Michael Schmit.
Schmit told committee members that private donors have raised almost $10,000.
This fall, Schmit signed a contract with federal officials to take possession of the aircraft. The city only recently learned that the aircraft was available.
The jet must be removed by Dec. 22 from its resting place for the past five years near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport or the plane will be scrapped.
The contract requires the city to display the plane within 120 days but does not specify the type of display.
Officials have discussed the possibility of putting the jet in the hangar at the old airport until money is raised to place the jet on a pedestal at the new airport.
Patrick Curry, a former member of the Willmar Airport Commission who's leading the fundraising effort, said he was pleased with the committee's action.
"I'm terribly excited about it,'' he said Tuesday morning. "This is going to happen that we're going to bring that bird here to Willmar.''