The Living Coast Discovery Center, formerly known as the Chula Vista Nature Center, announced on October 1 that it will close its doors on October 28. A South Bay landmark, the center includes exhibits of local sea life and shore birds.
A press release from the Discovery Center states, “Though we’ve started making headway in new programming and establishing new collaborative community relationships — we’re simply out of funds to allow us to continue to wait for additional grants and supporters to come through. It would be fiscally and ethically irresponsible of us to continue operations without knowing when we will see any financial relief.”
The press release goes on to say that after the October 28 deadline, the center will “systematically liquidate our assets, find new homes for our animals, and fulfill educational responsibilities.”
“It’s unbelievably terrible.,” said marketing coordinator Sherry Lankston in an October 1 interview. “We entertain and educate between 17,000 and 20,000 students a year.”
Lankston called the press release an “SOS” (“Save Our Sealife”). She offered hope that Chula Vista’s most noted attraction might avert this catastrophe. “If we can raise $200,000 in the next month we might be able to survive.”
One financial issue the press release refers to is the expense of the public shuttle that ferries the public from a parking lot to the center. “One of our largest costs is running the public shuttle…guests are not allowed to drive on the levee road for two reasons: one, the property is a Wildlife Refuge; and, two, we do not have adequate parking on our footprint at the center for visitors.”
For 25 years, the Chula Vista Nature Center was primarily supported by city funding; however, when the name was changed, the center became a nonprofit. An April 18, 2012, U-T article about the name and status change stated: “In 2009, the facility almost closed because the city, faced with severe budget cuts, could no longer afford the $1 million annual cost to operate it.”
A little more than a year later, the center appears to be at the same crossroad.