The Fort Worth City Council elected Tuesday to not acquire and operate an aviation exhibit honoring the city's flight history.
The council loaned $2.5 million to the Fort Worth Air & Space Museum Foundation to help fund the exhibit. The exhibit was then to help bring money in for the future museum designed to celebrate Fort Worth's aviation past. However, the foundation has been unable to repay that loan.
The "Ascent" exhibit was on display at the Museum of Science and History for five months in 2011.
The council could have chosen to acquire the exhibit and then have the Museum of Science and History house, operate a portion of it and rent out others. However, the cost to do that would outweigh any revenues brought in, leaving a majority on the council to believe the half million dollars isn't a justified expense for a break from the rules of how to spend gas well revenues.
"I simply can't make the numbers add up on this," said Mayor Betsy Price. "It's just that in a time when funds are so precious, to divert from our policy would just be very difficult."
The council will come back in 30 days to look at other possibilities.
Price favors the second of four options shown to the council on Tuesday, where the city would acquire the exhibit and then liquidate it. Items would be returned, donated or sold off.
"Ascent" is estimated to be worth $3.1 million, but it hasn't been formally appraised as it remains in storage at this time.
Members of the council said they support celebrating Fort Worth's aviation heritage and to educate the youth of its importance to the city, but that there are too many other priorities at this time.
It's not clear what this may mean for the future of the proposed Fort Worth Air & Space Museum, but it's clear that "Ascent" will likely be grounded for good.