"Funding — including some of the construction money — has not been secured. The Discovery Center Authority does not even have an updated estimate of future operating costs."While reporter Tibby Rothman looks at the important environmental questions that plague the controversial project, her story focuses on the project's other ongoing green problem: lack of money.
As Rothman writes: "Ultimately, however, the gorilla in the room is not about environmental ethics but about money.
Belinda V. Faustinos, executive director of the San Gabriel River Discovery Center Authority, "concedes that, in fact, that funding — including some of the construction money — has not been secured. The Discovery Center Authority does not even have an updated estimate of future operating costs."
But as Rothman points out -- and as readers of this blog already know -- serious financial troubles have plagued projects too similar to the Discovery Center to ignore or brush off.
"What comes to me is that it's easy to build something [but] it's hard to sustain the operation," says Michael Feeney, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, speaking of Santa Barbara's troubled Watershed Resource Center.Rothman tells the cautionary tale of Santa Barbara's "largely shuttered" Watershed Resource Center and includes quotes from someone familiar with that troubled project:
"'What comes to me is that it's easy to build something [but] it's hard to sustain the operation,' says Michael Feeney, executive director of the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County.
"Feeney points to the experience of Santa Barbara's Community Environmental Council, which constructed the Watershed Resource Center at a county beach, but no longer owns it.
"'Everyone was excited to build it and there was a lot of enthusiasm at first,' he says. But the officials at the various agencies grew reluctant to devote the funds needed to keep it going."
Southern California taxpayers and ratepayers watched this same sad story play out on at least two other occasions -- first with the Center for Water Education in Hemet, then with the Children's Museum at Hansen Dam -- losing tens of millions of dollars in the process.
Feeney gets the last word in the LA Weekly article, suggesting the fatal flaw of projects that try to graft indoor, entertainment-oriented facilities onto areas where the focus is naturally (no pun intended) on outdoor recreation and education.