Future of Coyote Point Museum remains uncertain

Coyote Point Museum officials acknowledged that they were struggling with financial problems yesterday, but refused to confirm or deny reports those troubles may force the longtime bayside institution to close.

Media reports Thursday said the governingboard of the museum had approved its closure, but museum employees said it was very early and that nothing has been decided yet. They were caught by surprise by the sudden flurry of attention.

“We were no way ready to go public,” museum spokeswoman Michelle Martin said, noting that she was not privy to all of the board’s discussions. “No decisions have been made at this time as to the direction we’ll be taking.”

A statement issued by the museum Wednesday said the organization is still searching for new funding sources, and that it has identified one possible partner interested in making significant upgrades to the 25-year-old institution.

The statement, which Martin would not elaborate upon, said only that if the board’s current plan to secure funding fell through, the group would seek other options.

“We are therefore making this statement in anticipation of having a more fully realized plan to unveil to the public in the near future,” the statement said.

A board member did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Coyote Point Museum is a nonprofit, educational center that features exhibits focusing on environmental and nature issues. It sits on a swath of land at the northeastern corner of San Mateo on county-owned land.

County officials are currently helping the museum brainstorm possible funding sources, Supervisor Jerry Hill said.

“It’s certainly unfortunate that they’re having a difficult time, as so many other nonprofits are,” Hill said. He added he doesn’t think the museum is doomed to close. “I feel their board of directors is committed to continuing their mission.”

The museum, which depends on grant funding and other contributions to stay afloat, has spent hundreds of thousands more than it made in recent years. It spent $930,000 more than it took in in the fiscal year ending in 2004, and nearly $750,000 more the following year,according to federal income tax reports filed with the state’s Office of the Attorney General.

tramroop@examiner.com

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