Friday, August 13, 2010

Is the cost estimate for the Arizona Centennial Museum a low ball?

The Arizona Historical Society (AHS) initially stated the Arizona Centennial Museum would require 9 million dollars of funding. That number continues to be used, and was again cited in recent articles in the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capital Times.

During the Senate hearing on the centennial museum bill, that cost estimate was challenged. However, the director of the AHS assured the Senate committee that the AHS had good price estimates for the project.

All they actually had was a brief and informal half page of calculations from their sole source museum display contractor. The calculations appeared to include:

• Cost for museum display design
• Cost for architectural work
• Cost for fabrication of museum displays

It was not a bid, and it was not even signed. It did not appear to include funds for contractors to actually work on the building.

The preliminary sketches of the centennial museum show all new landscaping and paint. The renovated building is described as having a new entry foyer on the north side, a kitchen, a cocktail bar, and many thousands of square feet of new floor space. None of the cost for any of this subcontracted work appeared to be included. There was apparently no money for interior painting, new carpet, or second floor air conditioning. There was apparently no money for bringing the ancient and inadequate electrical wiring up to code, no money for repairing or replacing the creaking and sagging floors, and no money for repairing the crumbling west masonry wall. There was no money for permits to renovate a historic building, and there was not even money for demolishing existing ADMMR office space.

Since the Centennial Museum was planned in total secrecy, the true cost is known to only a few, if it is know at all. From the outside, it looks like either:

1. The AHS low balled the cost to make it easier to start fund raising
2. The AHS does not know what the 5C museum will cost.

If either the AHS or the Centennial Foundation is using the 9 million dollar number in fund raising efforts that may be a serious misrepresentation.

The people of Arizona deserve an accurate and complete cost estimate for this project. There should be an independent audit of the centennial museum budget. Without it, an existing functional and valuable State facility (mineral museum) may be made unusable and then abandoned because of insufficient funds to complete the centennial museum.

Note: This posting will be either corrected or deleted immediately if anyone can provide credible information showing that 9 million dollars is a reasonable cost estimate for the centennial museum.

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