Hands On Children’s Museum faces long hard struggle

June 4th, 2008 by Ken

It sounded like a good deal at the time.  The City of Olympia would buy nearly two acres of Port of Olympia property for the the location of the new Hands on Children’s Museum.  It would spend $450,000 to clean up the site and then turn the property over to the Museum.

The purchase of the property would be part of the matching money the Museum needs to begin fund-raising efforts.  It has to raise $7 million and begin construction by 2010, if it wants to access Public Facility District money which has been sitting for it since the three cities and the county reached agreement 2006.

Under the terms of that agreement, the City of Lacey would get 70 percent of the Public Facility District money generated by a kickback of state sales tax to the local community.  The City of Lacey would construct an athletic and recreation complex while the City of Olympia would build a new children’s museum with the remaining 30 percent.

The catch, is that the museum has to raise $7 million and start construction by the end of 2010 or that money reverts back to the City of Lacey.

Supporters of the Hands on Children’s Museum are confident they can raise the money and are certain the port property will be cleaned up in time for construction to begin.   Unfortunately, their enthusiasm isn’t echoed by the reality.

Costs of clean up at the Port of Olympia property is climbing by the month.  The cost is now $11 million and still climbing.  It’s doubtful the port can even get the cleanup underway by 2010 let alone, have it cleaned up enough for the museum to start construction.

And, museum supporters are going to find the going a little rough in trying to raise the $7 million.  Oh, I’m certain the first three or four million will come fairly easily, but the last few million dollars will be a tough sell.  Economic conditions, coupled with the museum’s previous record with money, will make the outcome doubtful.

I’ll be the most surprised person in the county if the Hands on Children’s Museum is under construction by the end of 2010.

Posted in Business, Government, The Real News

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