Jay C. Hormel Nature Center officials are in the early stages of replacing their visitor center with a new building. -- Herald file photo
Jay C. Hormel Nature Center officials are in the early stages of replacing their visitor center with a new building. -- Herald file photo

Nature Center officials to start fundraising campaign

Published 10:33am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

If the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center has its way, a new visitor center could be under construction as early as 2016.

Nature Center Executive Director Larry Dolphin told the Austin City Council he hopes to start a two-year fundraising campaign for the new visitor center on April 22, the 44th anniversary of Earth Day. The nature center hopes to raise between $1.7 and $3.5 million for a new center, based on talks with comparable visitor centers around the region.

“I’m excited about the possibilities,” Dolphin said.

Nature center officials are aiming high, hoping to have a new center with two program rooms, an exhibit and more for residents to enjoy.

The current visitor center was dedicated in 1975, according to Dolphin. Yet the building is in the Austin Municipal Airport’s current flight path, which means nothing can be built or rebuilt on that building.

Electrical problems found last summer have given nature center officials pause, which is why they are hoping to build a visitor center either directly west of the current location where a machine shed currently stands, or south of the center and closer to Interstate 90.

Parks and Recreation Director Kim Underwood said city officials won’t decide where to build the new center for some time.


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