The staff working to make the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center a reality has moved to a new location at 1766 Fowler St., just minutes from the proposed site in west Columbia Park.
"They're both in Richland," said Melody Meilleur. "But we needed more space, proximity to the site and for the rent to be the same or less. We were successful on all three."
She has been finance manager for the interpretive center for the past three years.
The office moved in November but the grand opening was held Tuesday with officials from all the chambers, the three cities and the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center Board attending.
Kimberly Camp, interpretive center CEO, gave a short overview of the project, which is intended to serve as a gateway to the Hanford Reach National Monument and to tell the story of the region's geology, flora, fauna and history.
The project originally was planned for Columbia Point, but problems with the site forced a move to Columbia Park. That has required a second round of surveys and permits.
"But we have geotechnical engineers, a research archaeologist and the architects are all on-site this week working on permits," she said.
Bruce Arnold of Jones & Jones, the principal architect of the interpretive center, has been working on the project for nine years and said, "We're finding the new site is a better fit for the building than the previous one (at Columbia Point)."
Changes to the building design to accommodate the new site are not expected to add to the cost for the 61,000-square-foot museum, which is budgeted at $40.5 million.
So far, $26 million has been raised for the project from local, state and federal government sources and corporate donations.
Camp said the delays have helped better define the project, which she said is nothing to rush.
"Museums are about community aesthetics. They're the embodiment of what a community says to the world about what it believes in and values," Camp said.