By Darren Brown, News9.com INsite team
Construction is underway on the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.
The Center's staff is hosting hard hat tours for state and city leaders to not only showcase the progress, but to try to garner additional support for the project, Executive Director Gena Timberman said.
"This is a large project--it's gonna take a large amount of funding to complete it," she said. "It's a 150 million dollar project and to date we have about 50 million really invested in the design and the current construction that you see on the site today," she said.
The center was designed to be a world-class interactive experience focused on Oklahoma's Native American heritage. The design includes parks, trails, meeting spaces, and commercial development.
Congress initially authorized $33 million for the project, but the spending climate in Washington has changed since then, Timberman said.
The Cultural Center needs $45 million to continue construction uninterrupted. Timberman and her staff said they hope state lawmakers will approve bond money to cover the costs.
"We know that the state of Oklahoma holds great vision and development," Timberman said. "We've created world-class destinations in the state. Why should we stop now?
"We have a story to tell, it's time for Oklahoma to own that story, and it's time for us to build a place to tell that story."
Lou Kerr, chairwoman of the Oklahoma Centennial Commission, said she was impressed by a recent tour.
"I am sold, I've been sold on it even before it was an idea, so I have been involved with it for many years," Kerr said. "I am pleased to see it come this far, and I hope we have a more or less seamless adjustment in the finances so that it can continue."
The center's staff plans on hosting more hard hat tours in the future for tribal leaders, educators, and business leaders.