Oro Valley families have an educational entertainment option to look forward to, thanks to the town’s partnership with Children’s Museum Tucson.
Oro Valley will kick in $200,000, matched by a contribution from the museum, to create a satellite facility at a spot on the Oracle Road corridor yet to be determined. The town will give the museum $75,000 a year to operate the satellite museum.
“We are excited by the prospect of bringing a children’s museum to Oro Valley families and creating a space that stimulates curiosity and motivates learning,” Children’s Museum Tucson Executive Director Michael Luria said via email.
The town voted to supply its end of the funding as part of its 2014-15 budget at its May 21 Town Council meeting.
Oro Valley Town Manager Greg Caton talked with the Star about plans for the museum and its implications for the town’s future.
Q: How did this project come to be?
A: It started several years ago, with discussions between the town of Oro Valley’s leadership and Children’s Museum leadership. The initial startup costs of the exhibits will be $600,000. The Children’s Museum has dedicated $200,000 and the town has dedicated $200,000. We’re getting ready to launch a fundraising effort for the remaining $200,000. We’ve already made the assumption that we will be able to generate that. We are very optimistic that it will be successful and are seeking contributions from the corporate community.
Q: How will the town raise the additional funds?
A: The Children’s Museum will be the ones taking the lead on that as our partners. We want to assist them, but they are professionals at fundraising who do this regularly.
Q: When are you hoping to get the museum going?
A: I think we’re optimistic we will finish up this fundraising within the next six months and are looking toward the first quarter of 2015.
Q: Do you have an idea of where you’ll build it?
A: We’re still identifying and examining locations. We have a short list, but nothing has been developed. There’s nothing definitive at this point. There’s no specific property. We’re still exploring sites, and looking for 3,000 square feet of space.
Q: What will the museum mean to Oro Valley?
A: I think this is a significant achievement for the town of Oro Valley. It’s a wonderful partnership with the Children’s Museum, and it means a lot to community members, specifically youth. I think it represents the town’s recognition of the changing demographics in our community. A real eye-opener was the 2010 U.S. Census numbers, which indicated how many people there were under age 18 in the town. We have been dedicating services, programs and resources for them.
Q: What does this say about the direction of the town?
A: There’s been a real transformation. Many years ago, we were just a bedroom community. Then there was growth, and major employers turned this into a place to live and work. Now it’s transforming into a place where you can live, work and play. We’re developing into a stand-alone community.
Q: What role do you see the museum playing?
A: What I anticipate, with this closer location coming here, people nearby will be going to the main museum on a more regular basis. It’s not meant to be a substitution for the main facility downtown. I think what will happen is it will grow the exposure to the main facility. People in northern Pima County will be exposed to the Children’s Museum here and think, “This is really wonderful. Let’s go see the larger facility.”