July 28, 2013 Updated: July 28, 2013 at 8:00 am
Backers of an effort to build a $6 million museum at Fort Carson say an anonymous donor has jump-started fundraising for the Mountain Post Historical Center.
With a $500,000 donation in hand, the museum group has hired a builder for the facility at Nelson Boulevard and Colorado 115.
"We got our first big donor," said Ed Soriano, a retired Army lieutenant general who is leading the museum effort. "This is our lead donor. As we match that donation, we'll raise some more."
The museum has been in the works for seven years, but when it was at a critical stage in fundraising, the economy hit the skids. Organizers scaled back plans - cutting the price of the facility from $15 million to $6 million - and bided their time. Now they're hitting their stride.
"We're gaining momentum," Soriano said.
The museum, outside Fort Carson's main gate, is planned as a community gathering place where the public can experience Army history. It also will serve a military purpose by helping new soldiers understand their heritage.
Getting exhibits isn't a problem. Fort Carson is home to smaller museums and has thousands of artifacts, including the full collection of the 4th Infantry Division.
With the war in Iraq over and America's role in Afghanistan expected to end in 2014, Soriano said finishing the museum soon is critical.
"My greatest fear is we will forget about these kids," he said.
The museum group needs to raise $5 million - in donations and grants - to pay for the 16,000-square-foot facility. And because it is being built on Army land, it must raise the full amount before construction, proposed for 2014, can begin.
"There are people out there who are behind this project and believe in it just like we do," Soriano said.
To learn about the museum project and to donate, go to mountainposthistorical center.org.