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Brother, can you spare a dime?
POULSBO — The city of Poulsbo has been asked to evaluate whether it could offer a loan to the cash-strapped Poulsbo Marine Science Center.
Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) put the idea forward at a Poulsbo city council meeting last week.
After $150,000 in state legislative funding was denied at the last minute by Gov. Christine Gregoire earlier this year, the center is currently open, but can’t afford to operate full-steam ahead. Most affected is its education curriculum, which is now only expected to run skeletal pilot programs this year.
Appleton said an inter-fund loan from the city could be key to keeping the center’s doors open beyond July 2009, which is when its current operation funding will go dry. Before then, she said, the center needs to be able to fully display its educational value to secure more stable monetary support.
“It’s the one thing that I know that will help and will keep it going,” she said.
She pledged to also fight for funding during the upcoming state legislative budget session. While the state faces a $2.7 billion budget deficit, the center is an expenditure she said she’ll defend.
“It is my goal to fund the Poulsbo Marine Science Center next year for the $150,000 that we didn’t get this year,” she said. “I think we have a really good shot at getting the money.”
The science center, first opened in 1989, closed due to financial shortfalls in 2005 and was reopened nearly a year ago after the Poulsbo Marine Science Center Foundation and community volunteers refurbished its interior. Recently the center has put finishing touches on its floating lab, an on-the-water learning space that could allow kids from 176 classrooms in 14 school districts to take their own samples and study hands-on what is found in Liberty Bay. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the lab Thursday; it will open to students at the end of October.
Appleton said the center is a key part of Poulsbo’s downtown revitalization, citing that downtown lunch sales dropped by 45 percent when the center closed.
Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said she’d commission the Finance Committee to address the issue. The committee next meets Oct. 1. She added she and other representatives from the city are currently seeking an appointment with Gregoire to champion the center’s cause before the state budget is finalized.