RICHLAND -- The proposed Hanford Reach Interpretive Center is poised to start construction at Columbia Park using $700,000 of newly found leftover stimulus money.
Lisa Toomey, executive director of the Reach, told the Richland City Council this week that the Richland Public Facilities District board said she believes the first phase -- putting in the road, utilities, parking lot, lighting and amphitheater -- is possible by next June.
"It will take a continuation of our close relationship with you and the city staff," Toomey said in her presentation.
The update to the council comes as the Reach project evolves away from a showcase facility to being a campus setting in which several buildings on 18 acres will present what Toomey calls "our story" about the history, peoples, agriculture, the Manhattan Project and B Reactor, Ice Age floods and growth of the communities along the Columbia River.
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The first step is to build the first building with funds in hand, Toomey said.
"The next nine months promise to be transformational for this project and this community," she said.
Toomey said the city can help by approving the $700,000 surplus stimulus money for the Reach and by reducing the amount of money required for a reserve in case the project stalls.
A smaller set-aside would allow "(us) to build the biggest facility possible," she said.
Toomey's presentation described the reconfigured Reach project as having multiple buildings, the first being 10,000 to 12,000 square feet at a cost of $3.4 million.
No fundraising campaign would be needed.
There would be a 300- to 400-seat amphitheater, and the first building would feature the Hanford Reach, the Manhattan Project, Ice Age floods, agriculture related to the Grand Coulee Dam and the Columbia River.
There also would be tours for the Hanford area, wineries, irrigation and agriculture.
Toomey said the annual operating cost would be about $680,000, with a potential deficit of $57,000 if there is no support revenue.
The projected operating budget would see $135,400 from admissions, $179,000 from tours, $91,200 from adult education programs, $50,008 from store sales and $26,290 from memberships. Another $123,950 would come from rentals and endowments, she said.