Archived Story

No campaign kickoff, but Nature Center leaders celebrate progress on new building

Published 10:12am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jay C. Hormel Nature Center officials celebrated Earth Day Tuesday night with a little music and discussions about the new visitors center project.

The center held an Earth Day Celebration featuring Douglas Wood & the Wild Spirit Band Tuesday night. While the Earth Day celebration was originally slated to kick off the capital campaign for the project to build a new visitors center, officials have slowed work to continue planning before asking for funds for the project.

The Friends of the Jay C. Hormel Nature will vote on whether to move ahead with the project in the coming months. The capital campaign would kick off around that time.

“Things seem to be very favorable,” Executive Director Larry Dolphin said.

Still, officials are hard at work. Dolphin and I&S Group, the project’s architectural firm, recently toured an area wildlife refuge to look at another facility. Dolphin, officials and the architects are also making progress on the first phase of the project, which includes discussing architectural plans and engineering.

“Come June, we’d like to be in a position where we can apply for grants,” Dolphin said.

Officials already picked a site for the roughly 14,000-square-foot building; it would be built north of the maintenance shed, which is close to existing buildings.

Construction could get started as soon as 2016, though Dolphin said it could be pushed back to 2017 depending on how soon the nature center raises donations. The project is estimated to cost $3.5 to $4.5 million, but Dolphin said the architect would help determine the project’s scope and costs. The new visitors center will also use as many energy saving concepts as possible to become sustainable.

“It can’t move quick enough for me,” Dolphin said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to pursue it.”

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