DaVinci Science Center's Lin Erickson pitched her latest attempt at a "world class" science center to a dubious Northampton County Council last night. What was originally a $130 million aquarium is now a $160 million nature dome and a 100' tall Vitruvian Man. But he'll be called a Vitruvian Person. Erickson said this latest plan is even better than an aquarium and on a par with The Franklin Institute and Carnegie Science Center. She also claimed it would draw up to 600,000 visitors a year. She expects 2/3 of the money will come from the public. This is likely because the private sector is a little more careful in how it spends its money.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto, who also was a big cheerleader for the now defunct High School Hall of Fame, has already pledged $30 million of his city's money for this pipe dream. What's more, he has spent $5 million to buy an old hotel, where the DaVinci Science Center will stand. "We aim for the stars," he said. He should be little more concerned about being mooned when this falls on its face.
Erickson said that DaVinci has outgrown its current facility in Allentown. It plans to keep it for children aged 8 and under, and continue its mission of bringing "science to life and life to science" in Easton.
She's planning on a 130,000 sq ft facility, with 50,000 sq ft of exhibits The two major attractions are the Vitruvian
Although this property is located within the flood plain, she said it will be built so that all interior areas will be above it. She called the outside area an urban wetland. Just like a swamp is actually a vernal pool.
You enter by going under and between the legs of the Vitruvian
Council member Tara "Down With the Patriarchy" Zrinski questioned how a little girl would feel about seeing something that is supposed to be a celebration of the human body in male form.
"It kinda' sends a message," she remarked.
"I hear you totally," responded Erickson. "I'm a female myself." Zrinski said it should be male, female, and "everything in between."
I'm pretty sure that the Vitruvian
Whatever it is, Erickson said there will be ramps so people can walk through different body parts and understand how they work. It's very scientific, you know.
The other main feature of this supposed Science Center is the nature dome. You'll be able to take a simulated walk along the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers watershed. You'll pass by a butterfly and insect garden and an indoor forest at night, with 45' tall trees and nocturnal animals that include bobcat, raccoons and oppossums. Don't know if there will be any vampires.
Council member Matt Dietz wondered who would be idiotic enough to pay $23.50 to see what he can see for free by simply going to Jacobsburg Park or walking along the real Delaware and Lehigh Rivers.
Zrinski wondered about the animals. What impact will this have on them? "To me, that sounds cruel," she said. She wondered why they'd be behind glass at all. Some guy named Joe Moore, who has already been paid quite a bit of money to shill this project, said the issue has been carefully studied and that all the animals would be rescues who could never survive in the wild.
Dietz questioned the visitor projections. How many of the 400,000-600,000 visitors per year are wealthy enough to come, he wondered. That information will be supplied to him.
So far, funding for this project has been a joke. $50.4 million in public funds have been "committed" by Easton and the state. Only $2.6 million in private money has been "committed."
"Your funding plan looks anemic," warned Council member Bob Werner. "Thank you for not asking us for any money."
That's coming, but Erickson was cautioned to lower her expectations by Werner, along with Council President Ron Heckman and Council member Kevin Lott.
This is simply a bad idea. I can't think of any sane person who would throw a dime at it. So I fully expect NorCo Council to give Erickson money.