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Home | Tag Archives: Children’s Museum

Tag Archives: Children’s Museum

City Council Approves $161.3M In Bonds; Several Projects to Receive Funding

On Tuesday, El Paso City Council approved over $160 million in general obligation bonds and certificates of obligation to fund scores of projects around the city.

“We are being financially responsible by only issuing debt when we need it. It has been almost three years since we last issued long-term debt. We are strategic in our timing and size of the issuances to minimize the impact on our tax rate and taxpayers,” Chief Financial Officer Robert Cortinas said.

Via a news release, city officials added, “El Pasoans will see streets, parks and public safety improvements among other projects under the issuance of $161.3 million in general obligation bonds and certificates of obligation.”

Funding will go towards approved 2017, 2018 and 2019 Capital Improvement Plans which include new public safety vehicles and facilities, new signalized intersections, Cohen site improvements, San Jacinto Plaza restrooms, neighborhood water parks, flat field improvements, safety improvements to the City’s top 25 arterials, information technology infrastructure and hardware, and matches for Metropolitan Planning Organization transportation projects.

The approved capital plans include cost increases to several 2012 bond projects that were originally underfunded and/or had project scopes modified following public feedback.

Some of those quality of life bond projects include the Children’s Museum, Mexican American Cultural Center, and the new regional park in far East El Paso.

The funding also will allow the City to complete projects within the 2012 Streets Capital Improvement Plan which range from resurfacing and reconstruction of streets to paving unpaved alleys to street median and parkway landscaping improvements, as well as sidewalk and parkway improvements.

Additionally, city officials say that “Council’s action included taking advantage of a bond refunding opportunity that will save the City $2.3 million by refinancing the existing debt at a better interest rate while keeping the original length of the bond payback period.”

Officials added that the proposed issuance is within the City’s current debt cap of 35 cents and its debt service payment is already included in the current fiscal year’s budget so there would be no additional impact on homeowners.

Council Approves Public-Private Partnership to Bolster Children’s Museum Project

On Monday, City Council approved a public-private partnership providing the City with the ability to potentially secure 100 percent of its investment in a children’s museum by having the museum’s nonprofit pay for two-thirds of the museum’s annual operating costs.

According to the city, the arrangement is an atypical approach, which pays 100 percent of operating expenses for its other museums.

“The project’s original budget of $19.25 million was underfunded and not sufficient to provide even a very basic, scaled-back museum,” said Sam Rodriguez, Capital Improvement Department Director. “This model ensures better stewardship of public dollars as it leverages private dollars to deliver a truly quality project, and it establishes a limit for the City’s contribution toward construction of the children’s museum.”

Over a 20-year period, a savings of $1.2 million annually in operating costs could equate to more than $20 million in savings for the City.

Council’s action taken to realize the community’s vision of developing a world-class children’s museum included increasing its investment in the project beyond its original budget by matching one dollar for every one dollar raised privately.

The partnership terms were approved in response to private-sector stakeholders pledging to double their contribution to $20 million for this signature bond project overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2012.

The total cost for design, construction, and exhibits is approximately $60 million.

With the increase, the City will cap its financial contribution to the project at $39.5 million. To manage this project, the City approved the creation of a Local Government Corporation. City Council will serve as the board for the corporation and manage the construction of the museum.

This is  not the first time the City has used an LGC to complete a project, as they undertook a similar route during the construction of the baseball park.

“The City of El Paso is committed to building a world-class children’s museum, and this public-private partnership provides the best model to ensure the long-term financial success of this endeavor,” said Tracey Jerome, Director of the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.

Last August, Gyroscope Inc., an award winning, Oakland, California based design firm presented the Museum’s master plan that provided the framework for the architectural designs and incorporated public feedback seeking more than a traditional museum and a need for spaces and programming to engage multi-generational families.

“We greatly appreciate the tremendous support we have received from elected officials, City staff, and the effective leadership of our champions in the private sector,” said Dr. Paul Kortenaar, Founding Director, El Paso Children’s Museum.  “As a stand-alone non-profit organization the El Paso Children’s Museum will thrive under this public-private partnership with the City of El Paso.  We look forward to finalizing the design work needed to build this unprecedented project for our entire community.”

The museum will be located at 201 West Main, between the El Paso Museum of History and the El Paso Museum of Art, which are both within the Downtown Arts District.

According to city officials, the area attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year.

City approves downtown land purchase for Children’s Museum

The City of El Paso has found a home for the Children’s Museum, one of three signature projects of the 2012 Quality of Life Bond program.

City Council on Tuesday approved purchasing the maintenance facility of Greyhound Lines, Inc. at 201 W. Main St. at a price of $1.27 million plus the cost of demolishing the existing building. Demolition should not exceed $200,000.

As part of the purchase agreement approved by council, Greyhound at its expense will conduct the property’s environmental remediation to include removing the underground storage tanks and asbestos.

The future home of the Children’s Museum is located in the El Paso Downtown Arts District and is adjacent to the El Paso Museum of Art and the Plaza Theater.

“We are excited to be able to move this project forward. The acquisition of this property aligns well with the City’s commitment to realize a promise to deliver on one of three signature bond projects approved by voters in 2012,” Tracey Jerome, Director of the City’s Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, said. “This is a perfect location for our Children’s Museum. It enhances our El Paso Downtown Arts District and complements our cultural programming while serving as a key year-round tourism and economic development asset for our community.”

The land purchase agreement includes having Greyhound make a substantial “first contribution” and challenge grant to the Children’s Museum. The City and Greyhound are continuing to discuss the proposed contribution.

Council also approved a 10-year lease agreement with Greyhound for approximately 16,000 square feet of Sun Metro’s facility, at 700 San Francisco, at a cost of $114,409 per year for its maintenance operations. The lease agreement was also approved by the Mass Transit Department Board.

Advancing the 2012 bond projects is part of the City’s strategic plan to enhance El Paso’s quality of life through the creation of innovative recreational, educational and cultural programs.

Map: Google
Map: Google
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