December 9, 2008 in City

Mobius backers say funding on track

Science Center seeks board’s support
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Doubts about the fundraising capability for a Mobius Science Center in Spokane were eased Monday when proponents told the Park Board they are on track to reach their goals of opening a center in 2012.

Mobius sought renewed backing from the Park Board with updated financial projections showing the center becoming a near break-even operation after it opens in the fall of 2012.

The cost of building the center and a 3-D IMAX theater has been trimmed from $33 million to $29.5 million.

In May, Mobius missed a deadline of reaching the $14 million mark in fundraising, which caused Park Board members to express concerns about the project and the continuation of a $1-a-year lease for a parcel north of Riverfront Park. The lease requires Mobius to meet a series of fundraising goals.

Mobius has raised $11 million so far, more than a third of the total needed. Uncertainty over the lease is holding back donations, Mobius board members said.

“I do not have a concern about fundraising,” said Dave Remington, vice president of the Mobius board, during an afternoon meeting at the Pavilion in Riverfront Park. “I think this is all doable. There is an unmet need.”

He said the science center’s annual operating budget would need no more than $275,000 a year in outside support, such as fundraising or an endowment. That’s down from a previous estimate that more than $1 million a year would be needed to support operations.

Members of the nonprofit Mobius board told Park Board members they feel confident they can raise the grants and donations needed to get the center built, and they want the Park Board to renew its commitment to leasing to Mobius a 5.7-acre tract of park-owned land along Cataldo Avenue.

The property was part of the former Carnation dairy and was purchased by the city under a 1999 voter-approved bond measure.

Park Board President Gary Lawton said any action on the lease would be deferred at least until Thursday’s regular board meeting at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Approval of the updated financial plan by the Park Board was sought to provide the project with greater certainty so that Mobius can pitch the project to foundations and donors.

Mobius proponents said they could seek another location if parkland were no longer available.

Mike Prager can be reached at (509) 459-5454 or mikep@spokesman.com.


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