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October 22, 2017

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Second site considered for proposed space and science center

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Second possible museum site

Tonight’s meeting of the Henderson Space and Science Center Advisory Board began with the revelation that the city is looking at a second possible site for the center in downtown Henderson.

The volunteer board is tasked with planning, fundraising and building the estimated $63 million project.

At present, the center is planned to go on 160 acres of city-owned land on Galleria Drive east of U.S. 95, but grading and water-level challenges the site may pose have prompted the city to draw up a Plan B.

Former Henderson Mayor James B. Gibson, who is the chairman of the advisory board, said he has been advised that the city plans to evaluate a privately owned site on the northwest corner of Lake Mead Parkway and Water Street, within the new Lake Mead Commons commercial center.

Mayor Andy Hafen, addressing the board, told the board that the Galleria site remains the city’s preference, as long as it can be prepared for development at a reasonable cost.

“I still think that the majority of the council feels that this 160 acres is where this museum – that’s what I’ll call it – needs to go,” Hafen told the advisory board.

Long-term, the plan Henderson has adopted calls for much of the 160 acres to be sold to private developers for residential and commercial development, to recoup any investment the city makes into the site and the space center.

Rob Brisendine, operations manager for the Henderson Department of Cultural Arts and Tourism, said extensive engineering studies of the Galleria site and a market analysis comparing the two locations will have to be conducted before any final decisions are made.

Gibson said when all is said and done, he anticipates being able to proceed with the Galleria site.

“I really don’t know how much analysis has gone into the idea,” he said. “I think it will bear itself out over time. I think it’s important, at this time, that we stick to our goal. There’s really no reason to limit ourselves.”

Hafen said Henderson’s Public Works Department has been directed to proceed with its evaluations of the Galleria site, which include looking at grading challenges and a varying water table that rises to the surface in some spots. The city is also working with consultants on a comprehensive map of the site and a tentative infrastructure plan and design standards for project’s first phase, which would include the space and science center.

If the board finds it necessary to do a market analysis to compare the two sites, it will have to alter the tentative first-year budget that it approved tonight for submittal to the Henderson City Council.

The $234,000 proposed budget will be funded by the interest Henderson collects on the $25.3 million that it has in its land fund — $21 million of which was gifted to the advisory board in Gibson’s final meeting on the City Council but subsequently retained by Hafen and the current council.

Addressing the board tonight, Hafen re-emphasized that the city will only spend the money in the event of an emergency. Otherwise, it will be given to the board when the board is ready to use it.

“I feel very strongly about this concept,” Hafen said. “We’re behind it 100 percent, and there’s no two ways about it. When we build this thing – and we will build it – the money will be there for the board.”

The biggest expense in the $234,000 proposed budget is $80,000 for consultant Ray Shubinski, an experienced museum consultant who board members credit as the guiding hand to the city’s efforts. Shubinksi, who collects $50 an hour and no benefits for the work he does for the city, is expected to transition to an identical contract with the advisory board when his city contract ends next month.

“We were extremely fortunate to get somebody of Ray’s caliber for that rate and, fortunately, he’s willing to continue working under those terms,” Brisendine said.

Other expenses outlined in the budget are: $3,000 for professional dues, $10,000 for board development, $15,000 for research and travel, $12,000 for Web design, $10,000 for educational outreach, $10,000 for printing, $40,000 for marketing, $4,000 for insurance and $50,000 for consultants.

The budget is expected to go before the Henderson City Council on Aug. 18 for approval.

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