Regional Athletic Center nears completion; will the Hands On Children’s Museum be under construction by the end of 2010?

October 16th, 2008 by Ken

Work on the Regional Athletic Center, under construction on the corner of Steilacoom Road and Marvin Road, is nearing its end.   Lacey officials are saying that work will be done prior to next summer and some fields will be open before then.

Lacey Mayor Graeme Sackrison said that some of the fields are already in use.  “We constructed four soccer fields earlier and those have been in use,” he said.  “We have an all purpose soccer field with an all weather surface, which will be ready for use soon.”

When the first phase of the Regional Athletic Center or RAC as some are calling it, is finished, the facility will have six soccer fields, four softball fields, a baseball field, a picnic area, concessions, and parking.  The facility is under joint operating agreement with Thurston County.

Money for construction of the RAC comes from Public Facility District money which is split between Lacey and Thurston County and the City of Olympia.  The money is generated by three-tenths of one percent sales tax designated for public facilities which are regional attractions.

Lacey received about 72 percent of the money to build the RAC while Olympia received about 28 percent to build a new Hands On Children’s Museum.   Under the terms of the contract among and between the three cities and the county, Olympia has until December 2010 to begin construction of the new Hands On Children’s Museum, which is set to be constructed on Port of Olympia property.

The Hands On Children’s Museum will cost $18 million.  Public Facility District funds will bring in about $8 million.  The City of Olympia has already contributed $1 million, and the Museum itself has already raised $1 million.  That, however, requires the Museum to raise the remaining money by the end of 2010, or have enough money on hand to begin construction.

The poor economic conditions that are sure to continue, will hamper the Museum’s fund-raising effort.  In addition, the land where the museum has planned to locate could be contaminated.   Some people also think the soil is too unstable to allow construction of a new building.

If the Museum doesn’t start construction by December of 2010, all of the Public Facility District money will revert to Lacey, which will then use the money to expand the RAC. 

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