Coyote Point Museum to stay open

Coyote Point Museum officials announced Wednesday that there are no “immediate plans” to close the facility, particularly now that two nonprofit groups are vying to revive the struggling institution.

The Campaign to Save Coyote Point Museum, a fundraising group that sprang up in response to reports that the museum was closing due to budget problems, is preparing a proposal to keep the museum afloat. Campaign co-chair Linda Lanier expects the proposal will be completed in a few weeks.

The campaign aims to raise $300,000 — half of the museum’s 2005 deficit — by the end of the month to show its resolve, Lanier said. The group already has raised nearly $108,000 this week.

Meanwhile, South Bay nonprofit the 11th Hour Project — which focuses on promoting solutions to global warming — is preparing a feasibility study on a possible takeover and revamp of the site. Museum officials approached the 11th Hour Project in late spring, museum Board of Trustees president Rob Thomas said at a news conference.

Representatives of the 11th Hour Project could not be reached for comment.

“This will be an environmental education center,” Thomas said. “What that means remains to be seen.”

Coyote Point Museum is an environmental and ecological center with live animals and exhibits that has been at its San Mateo location for 25 years and sees 100,000 visitors annually. The museum, which gets much of its funding from grants and donations, has had a budget deficit since 1998.

Thomas pointed to the dot-com bust, declining membership numbers and expenses outstripping revenues as reasons for the deficit.

Campaign fundraisers said the 11th Hour Project mission might conflict with the mission the museum has had for decades.

“They’re more global warming and environment, while we’re more animals and children,” Lanier said.

David Holland, county Parks and Recreation Director, said he recently went out with the 11th Hour group to show them the lay of the land. He doesn’t expect the group to have a formal proposal for at least a couple months.

In the meantime, the county is taking a look at the Coyote Point Recreation Area Master Plan, a draft of which was last reviewed in 2002, before budget constraints pushed a revision to the back burner. But in light of the re-opening of the Magic Mountain Playground and the recent decision to demolish the former Castaways restaurant, the county wants to solidify a long-range plan for the area, Holland said.

There is interest among residents and officials in keeping the museum site as some kind of educational center, Holland said. There are also discussions on how to revamp the parking system and the beach area, possibly add boat ramps and even include a performing arts center somewhere on the property.

Holland said a meeting on the issue is scheduled for roughly mid-September.

tramroop@examiner.com

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