The Hanford Reach Interpretive Center project in Columbia Park must be scaled back because of "changing dynamics," said Lisa Toomey, newly hired executive director for the Reach.
With the center having only $9 million in hand, Toomey told the Tri-Cities Regional Public Facilities District board Wednesday that the first phase of the project only can be half of the proposed 61,000-square-foot facility.
But she noted that the downsizing means $3 million to $6 million more needs to be raised to get it built.
Toomey called the change "dramatic" and "more realistic" than the original proposal that was submitted to the regional board.
The revised plan for the Reach center asks for $14.5 million from the regional board.
The revised approach is one of four proposals the regional public facilities district board is considering as it decides on seeking voter approval on a sales tax increase in Pasco, Richland and Kennewick.
The 0.033 percent tax increase, if approved, would finance construction on one or more regional projects.
Toomey, who was hired two months ago to replace Kimberly Camp, said her first assignments were to rebuild relationships, cut costs and move the project forward.
The Reach project broke ground last fall by preparing the site and installing utilities.
Phasing the Reach project with the first building being only 25,000-square-feet also would reduce by half the need for support revenue and require fewer employees, Toomey explained.
Fred Raab, a member of the regional board and the Richland Public Facilities District Board, said once the first building is done, with mostly educational exhibits, they expect about 25,000 visits annually and revenue of about $800,000.
Half the income would be gate receipts, while the rest would come as contributions and from other sources.
Some fundraising would be needed to build the second half of the center, Raab said.
Toomey said the revised estimate of costs, operational expenses and other expenses still needs to be approved by the Richland Public Facilities District Board and the Richland City Council. But it will be presented to the regional board's consultant today so it can be scrutinized along with the estimates for the other projects -- an aquatics center, a performing arts center and an expansion to the Three Rivers Convention Center.
The consultant, E.D. Hovee, is supposed to complete the reviews by the end of April so the regional board can decide which one or combination of several should be presented for voter approval in 2013.