Construction continues

Jul 122011
Authors: Jason Pohl

After years of planning and months of construction, the new Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center hit a bump in the road –– a $2.4 million bump, to be exact.
According to City Manager Darin Atteberry, the financial short comings are a result of “timing issues and various sources of money.”

During the Fort Collins city council meeting on, July 5, the council approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 87 and 88, which will appropriate the almost $2.4 million needed for further construction of the project. The money will come from the city’s general and water funds.

“This is not a problem caused by corruption,” Atteberry said.

The decision to contribute funds for the project was not easy for the council, as some council members felt the construction process and future exhibits were losing sight of the initial goal.

“I’m still a little worried it’s going to turn into a corporate carnival,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Ohlson, who went on to say this is still his “favorite project over a 30-year time span.”

The city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) had earmarked nearly $3 million for the project, but the funds are simply not there. Representatives from the city did say; however, that the loan from the city would be short-term.

“These are more cash flow, timing issue than long-term loans,” said Mike Freeman, chief financial officer for the city.

During the meeting, the council heard presentations from the nonprofit partner group and the DDA, which initially requested $3,875,000 –– the amount to complete the museum construction and fabricate exhibits.

Council members were decidedly against funding it all at once, saying more information was needed from many groups involved.

“I expect us and our staff and the nonprofit to try to work hard together to come up with some other alternatives for the additional funding needed for this project,” said council member Gerry Horak.

At the end, council gave initial approval of using $1.5 million from the city’s general fund and an additional $875,000 from the water fund to continue construction of the museum, located near the intersection of College Avenue and Cherry Street.

The decision will give groups time to meet and develop a more financially secure plan and give city leaders time to review other funding possibilities.

“This is such a unique opportunity for the community, and we are forging new grounds and it stands to reason that some problems will occur,” said Mayor Karen Weitkunat. “Some mistake will be made. The most important thing is to keep the project moving forward.”

The $20 million museum is expected to be complete by June 2012. For more information about the project, visit

Staff writer Jason Pohl can be reached at

The project

  • What: Discovery Science Museum
  • Where: College and Cherry, near the Poudre River
  • When: Slated to open in June 2012
  • Project Cost: $20 million
  • Project Designer: OZ Architecture
  • Project Builder: Hensel-Phelps Construction
  • Project Features:
    360 degree Digital Dome Theater
    Local History Archive
    Classrooms for hands-on learning
    Outdoors spaces connected to the Poudre River

Visit or more information

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