Friday morning, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch formalized an agreement to transfer the Department of Energy’s (DOE) American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) building, along with its 17.12-acres, to the City of Oak Ridge. In exchange, DOE will receive space from the City in order to continue its public education and outreach efforts. These educational efforts are focused on recognizing the long-standing partnership between the Department and the City of Oak Ridge.
“From the Manhattan Project of World War II to the cutting-edge materials research of today, Oak Ridge has long played a vital role in American science and security,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This agreement will ensure that Oak Ridge’s history is preserved and shared while providing the city a new opportunity to create jobs and strengthen the local economy.”
“A solution to transfer DOE property in the heart of our city has been one that has eluded the leadership of Oak Ridge for over 16 years, but it is now a great example of local and federal government working together as partners to achieve success,” said Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch. “This transfer creates a “win-win” for the community and DOE, by allowing new, modern facilities of public education and outreach to tell our historical story and the future of science and discovery.”
“It’s an exciting time to join DOE in celebrating one of several key land transfers in the City of Oak Ridge. This transferal will enable the community to effectively tell the story of men and women who have worked to protect our country during times of war and peace. Throughout my time in Congress I have worked very hard to get government-held property transferred back to Oak Ridge as well as Anderson and Roane counties in order to benefit my constituents,” said Congressman Fleischmann. “Also, I would like to thank Secretary Moniz for his dedication and strong support for the ‘Secret City’ over the last several years.”
DOE first opened AMSE at its current location in 1975, as the successor to the American Museum of Atomic Energy which was initially established by the federal government in 1949, to showcase work classified for The Manhattan Project during World War II. Today the museum is managed by UT-Battelle, DOE’s management and operating contractor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and attracts about 65,000 visitors annually. The site currently serves as the starting point for DOE’s Public Bus Tours which include ORNL’s Graphite Reactor, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the former K-25 site (now East Tennessee Technology Park).
When the transfer is completed DOE will save more than $2 million in long-term maintenance and operating expenses, and will receive new space to continue its public education and outreach efforts focused on Oak Ridge history, modern science, and national security.
Transfer of the ownership and management of the property, and its surrounding federal land, to Oak Ridge allows for the city to explore future innovative development and economic stimulus opportunities. In exchange, the City of Oak Ridge will provide 18,000 square feet of space for 15 years to the federal government at no cost in rent, utilities, or maintenance. The occupancy agreement allows for DOE to continue to operate AMSE in its current location for 365 days while new space is being prepared.