DATE: October 4, 2012
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe, Public Information Manager, Broward County Commission
Broward County Commissioners have allocated $2 million to assist in the expansion of the Museum of Discovery and Science. The expansion includes a new science park planned for the property directly behind the museum and improvements to the 20-year-old building that presently houses the museum. The money would come primarily from tourist development taxes generated by visitors staying in local hotels.
“We will be adding about 40 percent more public space and upgrading the visitor experience. The museum welcomes about 450,000 visitors a year, the highest attended museum in South Florida,” Patrick Flynn, vice president of Museum Development, told the Commission. “There’s an economic benefit of about $20 million a year to the community.”
“I think it's a great opportunity to continue your good work and I'm proud and glad to be able to support it,” said Mayor John E. Rodstrom, Jr., who brought the issue to the Commission.
“The greater than 10-to-1 match in private versus public funding is important. The private sector has stepped up in a big way. This is why I am supporting it,” said Commissioner Chip LaMarca, who noted that beach renourishment funds, which are also derived from tourist taxes, would not be jeopardized.
“Our family grew up in this museum. Now we’re on round two with two grandchildren and another one on the way. This museum is a great amenity and I support it,” said Vice Mayor Kristin Jacobs, who requested that paying workers prevailing wages be part of the final agreement.
“I have no question in my mind that the Museum of Discovery and Science is important to Broward County. I've seen it not only through my family, but events my family has been invited to, ranging from birthday parties to bar mitzvahs," said Commissioner Ilene Lieberman. "It provides jobs to Broward County residents in construction, and later in operation, that may mean funding can come from other components, and I’d like to see that looked at when an agreement comes back.”
Commissioner Lois Wexler approved the funds, but requested that criteria be put in place and a process developed as funding requests for future projects like this and others come before the Commission.
Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness asked that a percentage of small businesses be included in the capital project as is the custom for County projects.
Commissioner Stacy Ritter asked that Broward County be represented on the museum’s Board of Trustees and that acknowledgement be given to the County for the funding that’s been approved now and in the past.
The County Attorney will draw up the contract that will come before the Commission for final approval. Commissioners approved $1 million to assist in the first phase of the expansion, which has been completed. The additional $2 million, if finalized, will bring the County contribution up to $3 million for the $33 million project.
The Museum of Discovery and Science is located at 401 S.W. Second Street in Fort Lauderdale.