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SOS — Save Our Sealife — in Chula Vista

Discovery Center faces closure this month

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.

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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.

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Comments
9

Just this weekend while watching a red tail hawk per h in our back hard our granddaughter shared the stories of how interesting it was the many times she had visited the Nature Center.

Why is it that beaurocrats always seem to find the find the monies to support issues that are important to them, but alas none is left to promote an entity that brings man closer to nature.

Oct. 2, 2013

Being located right across the street from EyeCandy can't be good for this place either. This place is the city's only draw, hope they can survive.

Oct. 2, 2013

How is it that Chula Vista has plans to develop its bay front to the tune of millions of dollars, but its present main attraction, Living Coast Discovery Center, might be closing due to lack of funds? Something is really wrong here. It's sad to think that such a great educational and entertaining experience enjoyed by many, might be lost.

Oct. 2, 2013

You are exactly right, johndewey.

The city of Chula Vista needs to step up.

What does City Hall have to say about this?

Oct. 2, 2013

WOW! I have so many questions. Was this a ploy to put pressure on the City Council at last night's meeting? Wasn't SDG&E on the hook to donate $2.5 million? Isn't there a danger in crying "wolf"? Something is fishy here, and it isn't in a pool at the Living Coast Discovery Center. To lose this facility will be a terrible black eye on Chula Vista.

Oct. 2, 2013

Have you heard anything about what was discussed at the council meeting?

Nothing in the news that I could find.

Oct. 4, 2013

Could crowd funding save this treasure?

Oct. 2, 2013

I have to think that City Hall is at least a little concerned about this.

When the reports are that Chula Vista is back in the green, why can't something be done for this asset?

It is--or should be--a major learning center for all the schools in this area, as well as a place where high school students can get all their volunteer hours that are required for graduation and for the applications to the UCs and SU schools.

When more and more, the public is aware of the importance of marshland and tidal areas for all sorts of creatures, it is very surprising to me that there isn't more being done to keep this going.

Yes, there is major competition with the problems on the national scene, but can't we do something for our own town?

Oct. 11, 2013

Although we do not live in Chula Vista, we visited the Nature Center not only by ourselves but with guests. It's a wonderful, unique place, and it is hard to believe that city can't find the funds to keep it open. In fact, it was by seeing the clapper rail there that my eye was finally attuned enough to then see it in the wild at Tijuana estuary. The entrance fee is reasonable, unlike so many other places, and it is very well managed and designed. There are things there that one cannot find at other, larger, operations.

In fact, I guess I'd better go one last time.

Oct. 13, 2013

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