An ambitious vision for a learning facility that would be the epicenter of Colorado River knowledge is slowly moving toward reality.
Plans for the Environmental Learning Center on the city’s Havasu 280 land near Havasu Riviera were updated last week. Next steps: Turning the ideas into pictures and layouts.
The study center was one of several concepts in the city’s award-winning Vision 20/20 plan that netted more than $2 million in a national economic development contest. At the time, frankly, the water center’s vision was more nebulous than most of the other projects in the plan.
It’s looking more solid now, with project plans talking about laboratory space, exhibit space, classrooms and botanical gardens. The next phase will provide the volunteer project leaders with something tangible to take to potential financial backers.
The project is being led by Charlie Cassens, former city manager, who has been behind the effort since the community-driven Vision 20/20 effort began more than four years ago.
Financing will be a huge issue. Guesstimates of price tags exceeding $10 million mean that a variety of funding sources, from government grants to private support, will be required. City government’s need for an updated water quality lab may provide an anchor.
The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the West.
It’s the source of drinking water and recreational water for tens of millions of people. Its water is most often discussed as a commodity: Is there enough? Who gets it? While not ignored, the quality of the water along with its flows and the type of life it supports is typically secondary.
A learning center devoted to this great resource would indeed be a source of local and regional pride and also a source for scholars to study and help decision-makers in resource management issues.
Plans may morph into something slightly different, but the basics seem in place.
The methodical way the project is studied, then moved forward, deserves praise.
Though still in infancy stage, this project is more tangible, solid and fact-based than some in the Vison 20/20 plan that most expected to be completed by now, notably the downtown public/private space in the small city park along Querio Drive.
Congratulations to Cassens and other backers for continuing to push the water learning center, showing, we hope, how to transform a “cool idea” into something real and valuable.
— Today’s News-Herald