Did you hear that the City of El Paso, along with some private investors, are going to build a Children’s Museum in downtown El Paso? Here’s the story from KVIA:
It’s been five-and-a-half years since El Paso voters approved spending $19.5 million for a state-of-the-art children’s museum, but ground still hasn’t been broken and the over all cost has tripled.
“The Children’s Museum in my mind, and in the minds of some other people working on this project, is the game changer among those quality of life bond projects,” said Richard [sic] Pearson, President and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation. “It is the one that’s different. It’s going to compete on the educational spectrum. On the quality of life spectrum. The economic development spectrum.”
Reading those last few lines, you can almost hear the hope, and the doubt, in his voice. Maybe a little regret, too, for letting himself get roped into this project.
“It’s going to be different, right?”
Pearson and the Community Foundation are playing a pivotal role in the planning and building of the children’s museum. “As we went further down the road, we realized through due diligence the original budget number was not a real number at all. We don’t know where it came from, but it wasn’t right. So, we asked the City for more money and we doubled our pledge as well to $20 million,” said Pearson.
As a result, the original $19.5 million grew with the City promising to commit another $20 million to the project for a total public investment of $39.5 million. That additional $20 million in funding will come from certificates of obligation, according to Tracey Jerome, the City’s Director of Museums and Cultural Affairs. Certificates of obligation are new debt the City can take on without voter approval.
Wow, $39.5 million. That’s a lot of cheese for City Council to make the taxpayers put up without so much as a say-so. The story goes on to say that private donors will contribute another $20 million, God bless them.
But I guess if the Children’s Museum lets the children of El Paso attend a world class facility and be exposed to the wonders of science for free, it might be worth it, right? Our kids might go on to be engineers and scientists and doctors, right?
Because the museum will be free, right? I mean, after the taxpayers of El Paso put up almost $40 million for the museum, they’re not going to expect us pay to get in also, are they?
I mean, it’s not like the ballpark, is it?