The Richland Public Facilities District board plans to look locally for an interim director of The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.
An interim chief executive could "settle everything down," said board member Dan Boyd.
"I think we need someone in quickly -- in weeks rather than months," said board member Rick Jansons.
Kimberly Camp, chief executive, is leaving the project at the end of December. A day after the board announced last month that she would be leaving, Joel Rogo, the board president and also the last original board member, also announced that he would be leaving as soon as a replacement for him is appointed.
Reach staff members also have concerns and submitted a list of questions concerning their jobs to the board, which the board looked at Monday in a brief closed session.
In addition, Reach board representatives heard concerns about its proposed operating plan, which called for $2.4 million a year, when they met recently with three Richland City Council members.
Camp argued that the board should be focusing on building an institution, not a building, and that could best be done by hiring someone with professional museum experience and qualifications as her replacement.
Rogo agreed, saying the board already had made the mistake of not bringing in a museum expert once. Camp was not hired until 2007, about five years after the start of the project to build the interpretive center.
But the majority of the board members were interested in seeing what talent could be found locally. Jansons said abilities should include leadership for fundraising, an excellent regional reputation to build partnerships in the community and business experience to evaluate revenue and expenditures.
About $26 million has been raised for The Reach, but more fundraising is needed to cover the $40.5 million project and additional long-term operations costs. More money must be raised before construction on the building can begin, although some groundwork has begun.
In addition to agreeing to advertise locally for an interim director for an indefinite term, the board directed Camp to prepare a request for proposals for a possible national search for leadership for The Reach.
The Reach is planned as a 61,000-square-foot interpretive center, intended to tell the story of the region's geology, flora, fauna and history, from the tribes that inhabited the Mid-Columbia to Hanford's legacy.
But at an earlier meeting between two Richland Public Facilities District board members and three Richland City Council members, the district board members heard that The Reach was too big and too grand and that proposed salaries were too high, said board member Fred Raab.
There was no support for a preliminary operating plan, called a pro forma, that would require annual budgets of about $2.4 million, he said. Representing the council at the meeting were Mayor John Fox and council members Phillip Lemley and Ed Revell.
Camp, who also was at that meeting, said the city representatives suggested cutting expenses in half, which would have a significant effect on programs and fundraising.
She believes there is support in the community for the project as planned now and showed a stack about 18 inches high of response cards passed out at community events requesting more information on The Reach.
The board plans to prepare a backup plan, showing how it would sustain The Reach if there are significant shortfalls in fundraising or other revenue. It is not expected to ask for council approval of an operating plan until at least early next year.
-- Annette Cary: 582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org