FIRST CHANGE AT DOWNEY SPACE CENTER—LONGER HOURSBy The Downey Patriot
The new director of the Columbia Memorial Space Center has announced his first change—expanded hours of operation—since taking over for his fired predecessor. Beginning July 6 the glistening tribute to Downey’s space heritage will be open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission prices will remain the same at $5 per person, groups of 10 or more are $3 per person, and children 3 and younger are free.
Downey’s assistant deputy city manager Scott Pomrehn, who announced the change, took over when original executive director Jon Betthauser was fired June 11. He signaled that its is the first of a broad overhaul of the Space Center’s public outreach.
For one thing, said Pomrehn, the center is only “95 percent complete.” For another, with an immediate operational budget of about $50,000 to worry about, funding goals were not being met. “We cannot hope to break even if we just depend on people walking through the door,” he said.
The space center cost $10 million to build, plus many millions more spent on the exhibits.
To energize the center, Pomrehn wants to a) revitalize the Foundation, whose major functions will include fundraising, strategic (and even tactical) advice on target audiences and programming, and develop a multi-tier membership structure that will see lifetime members, various degrees of sponsorships, etc., together with the appropriate by-laws; and 2) make sure that all the fifth graders in the area get to visit the center and experience its eye-popping science-and-space-oriented exhibits and programs.
City council member Roger Brossmer supports Pomrehn’s approach.
“We need to step up fundraising. I can think of Kaiser-Permanente, Coca-Cola, the Gas Company, other large organizations like Boeing, etc., who should be able to help us with this. There’s the Mary Stauffer Foundation, and so on. But the key thing is to step it up.”