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The proposed plan for the renovation of the Mission Canyon Campus at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History has so far been moving along as scheduled.

“We’ve met all of our timelines at this point,” said Easter Moorman, museum spokesperson for the nearly 100-year-old facility. Museum officials most recently explained their intentions to the city’s Planning Commission (PC) and Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) in a joint meeting reviewing the master plan in late July.

The trustees and staff at the museum will now wait for feedback from the meeting before moving forward to the next step of their Strategic Plan. In the meantime, good news recently surfaced concerning the project. It was announced Aug. 10 that the museum received a generous gift of $1 million from Keith Coulter and the B. Paul Moser Trust, long-time supporter of the organization’s educational programs. $900,000 will go to the planning of the renovation, and the other $100,000 will go toward the astronomy program that will be used for numerous years to come.

So far, more than $2 million has been raised by trustees and friends for the development of the Master Plan. Although donating money toward the construction of a building “seems a lot sexier” than giving to the creation of a plan according to Moorman, gifts earmarked for the planning phase are an essential part to the success of the renovation down the line.

“It’s like jumping in and doing your science fair project without actually doing your research,” suggested the marketing and PR manager at the museum of the possible pitfalls of moving forward without one laid out.

One of the goals of the project is to remove and/or relocate buildings to ensure they are setback at least 50 feet from Mission Creek which runs through the grounds. There are a few reasons for setting this goal: One is to help restore the woodlands along the creek, and another is to manage the storm water runoff in the region.

There is also a safety factor that could possibly come into play, as lining the creek is a retaining wall that has been undercut through the years from the flow of the creek. There is no record of when the retaining wall was built; engineers have examined the wall, but haven’t done extensive research on its stability. A collapse of the wall could lead to asphalt and, possibly, nearby buildings sliding into the riparian corridor.

An additional safety concern is the access route that is currently available for emergency vehicles potentially traveling to and from the area. Presently, the only road available is a narrow, downhill, winding route that meanders to the back of the property toward the creek. Part of the plan to improve the situation involves removing buildings and transforming the street leading to the museum, Puesta del Sol, into a two-way road for better traffic flow.

“Santa Barbara does ask that all its community members take the time to ask what it is they’re building and why they’re doing it,” said Moorman. As for the evolving plan for the renovation of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, so far, so good.