Coyote Point Museum board approves new mission

The Coyote Point Museum will change its mission to include the tackling of heady environmental issues, including overpopulation, global warming and toxic waste, as part of a plan approved by board members Tuesday.

The overhaul, along with most of the museum board’s resignation, was proposed by the grass-roots Committee to Save Coyote Point Museum in an effort to remake the natural science center and put it on financially solid ground.

“I think it’s going to be a good deal for the museum,” said Robert Gooyer, one of five members who will remain on the 22-person board. “The members that are joining the board appear to be big hitters and savvy fundraisers, which is needed for the museum to survive.”

Members of the board have guided the museum through financially troubled times, sometimes running up a deficit of more than $900,000 in a year.

In 2004, the museum raised $540,000 in donations toward a total of $1.2 million in revenue, while spending about $2.1 million, according to the most recent records available through the state attorney general’s office.

The museum needs about $700,000 for operations annually, plus an estimated $2 million for upgrades, officials said.

“We believe great things can be in store for the museum and that all of us can play a major role in the evolution of Coyote Point Museum,” said Linda Lanier, a former longtime museum board member.

Lanier and former Executive Director Linda Liebes have headed up the Committee to Save Coyote Point Museum, which raised more than $543,000 in four weeks. Under the proposal, Lanier will again become a board member.

In addition to focusing on fundraising and grants, the broader vision of the museum looks to the future and what subject matters will keep the museum vibrant, said Dave Holland, director of the county Parks and Recreation, which leases the facilities to the museum. The new board will set goals of gaining national and international recognition and maintaining a balanced annual budget, according to the proposal.

Among the more immediate changes to the museum, although no timetable was given, will be upgrades to exhibits and wildlife habitats, expanded school programs, possible outdoor education activities and food and beverage sales, according to the proposal.

The Coyote Point Museum mission is to deliver a hands-on wildlife and environmental education experience, with live animals. It has been in the northeast corner of Coyote Point Recreation Area since 1981. It sees 100,000 visitors a year and more than 20,000 school children.

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