Coyote Point plan scrapped

A proposal to remake the Coyote Point Museum into a global warming science exhibition has been withdrawn after a competing group launched a fundraising effort to save the museum.

The 11th Hour Project, based in Silicon Valley, announced Tuesday the withdrawal of its pitch to construct an IMAX theater, upscale organic restaurant and global warming education center on the financially troubled museum’s site.

The 25-year-old museum has run operating deficits into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in each year since 2000, financial records show. Museum officials have said they are looking at other alternatives, including partnerships with other groups.

Representatives for the 11th Hour Project had planned to present a feasibility study of its proposal — outlining the most compatible elements of its plan for Coyote Point — to museum board members at the end of the month. That will not happen now, according to Joe Sciortino, spokesman for 11th Hour, ostensibly leaving museum board members with just one proposal to weigh.

Coyote Point Museum staff and board members declined to comment on the announcement Tuesday, prior to a meeting scheduled for that evening.

“We had a good opportunity for a world-class environmental education center and, for a number of reasons right now, it isn’t going to be feasible,” said county Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Holland.

San Mateo County Parks acts as the landlord for the three-story, 8,000-square-foot museum, located inside the Coyote Point Recreation Area.

Holland said he hopes 11th Hour Project will still be able to find a suitable location somewhere else in the county, but he isn’t overly optimistic.

“I am disappointed, certainly,” said Board of Supervisors President Jerry Hill said, regarding the decision by 11th Hour to pull out.

The decision was in part based on an adversarial situation that arose after members of the Save Coyote Point Museum group commented that 11th Hour — which is run by the foundation of Google CEO Eric Schmidt — represented outsiders trying to buy their way in.

Now, Hill said he is counting on the grass-roots group, Save Coyote Point Museum — headed by former longtime board member Linda Lanier and former Executive Director Linda Liebes — to pull off their fundraising effort to put the museum on solvent ground.

Save Coyote Point Museum has raised more than $415,000 in three weeks, exceeding its goal of raising $300,000 in a month, Lanier said. Her group will present a proposal to the museum board Sept. 1 for restoring the museum’s financial solvency — including governance changes, overhauling and updating exhibitions and regular fundraising, Lanier said.

With only one proposal now expected to be presented, the board will be able to adopt or reject the plan, officials said.

ecarpenter@examiner.com

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