Long way to go for Children’s Museum

February 3rd, 2009 by Ken

The Hands On Children’s Museum made news recently when it announced that it had exceeded its fund-raising efforts to raise enough money to build a new museum on Port of Olympia property.

Museum supporters said they raised $12 million of the needed $18 million to build this new community facility.   That’s an accomplishment and bears repeating.

Hands On Children’s Museum supporters have raised more than $12 million of the $18 million needed to build a new children’s museum on Port of Olympia property.

Now, if we take a close look at that $12 million, we’ll see that it isn’t quite the accomplishment supporters are been touting.

For example, $8 million of the money comes from Public Facility District funds.  This was money already set aside for the museum’s construction.   It really took no effort on the part of museum supporters.  It was already earmarked for the museum.

The City of Olympia gave another $1 million to the Hands On Children’s Museum.  So, in essence, $9 million of the money was actually public money already in the pipeline.

The Gates Foundation came through with $500,000 in a challenge grant.   That was a major accomplishment; but it means that only $2.5 million of the $12 million was raised locally.

It also means that Hands On Children’s Museum supporters still have to raise $ 6 million more before they can really say that fund-raising efforts have been successful.

That’s another $6 million they have to raise assuming that costs of building the new museum stays at $18 million.

Museum supporters have picked the low hanging fruit.  But now, they have to reach further up the ladder and really get to work if they expect to raise the additional $6 million.

They have until the end of this year to get a building permit from the City of Olympia.  I suspect they can get it with just the amount of money they have currently raised.

They have until the end of next year to actually begin construction.   If they don’t start construction by then, all of the Public Facility District money, the $8 million, will revert to the City of Lacey for its use in the Regional Athletic complex.

Its a long way to go.   I don’t know if museum people can raise another $6 million given the current financial conditions.  We’ll just have to wait and be surprised.

(A similar commentary ran on KGY Radio February 2.)

Posted in The Real News

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