Broomfield commits $13 million for butterflies

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 7/10/19

The public was surprised back in 2017 when the Butterfly Pavilion and the City and County of Broomfield announced that the Pavilion would be moving from Westminster to Broomfield. Some politically …

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Broomfield commits $13 million for butterflies


The public was surprised back in 2017 when the Butterfly Pavilion and the City and County of Broomfield announced that the Pavilion would be moving from Westminster to Broomfield.

Some politically motivated folks tried to make it an issue in the mayoral race and blamed the incumbent Westminster mayor for the move but it was more a case of Broomfield being willing to offer more.

Anyway, the project has realized an important step with the Pavilion aka Rocky Mountain Butterfly Pavilion and its affiliate, the Center for Invertebrate Research, receiving a formal written commitment from the Broomfield City Council of $13 million in assistance. The project — to be located in developer McWhinney’s Baseline development at Highway 7 and I-25 — is estimated to cost $50 million, according to Broomfield staff.

Broomfield outlines its sources of assistance

The approved agreement calls for Broomfield funds from three sources. First, the city and county will provide $5 million from their capital improvements facilities reserve fund.

Secondly, they will draw $2 million from their 2019 capital improvements budget.

Thirdly, Broomfield will issue bonds netting $6 million, which will be repaid from a $1.00-$1.50 private improvement fee added to admission fees at the new facility. The bonds are to be repaid over 20 years.

Also, the developer is committed to providing up to a 20-acre site at no cost — which is said to be worth $4 million. The land would be divided between the Pavilion and Adams 12 Five Star School District which could be involved in an envisioned Science and Technology Park.

As part of the agreement, Broomfield will provide an initial $500,000 for Pavilion planning and architectural costs. It should be noted that drawings and renderings are an important component for fundraising efforts.

Butterfly Pavilion looking at $33.0 million to raise

The $13 million assistance and $4 million worth of land still leaves $33 million to be raised which falls on the shoulders of the Butterfly Pavilion.

When I interviewed Butterfly Pavilion CEO Patrick Tennyson back in May 2018, he indicated that the Pavilion would need to raise $10 and $15 million on its own. It would appear that the amount has gone up considerably in the ensuing 13 months.

In the City of Broomfield documents, it is clear that the extent of their financial participation is limited to $13 million and goes on to say “a substantial amount of private philanthropic money will be necessary.”

I contacted Mr. Tennyson to provide an update on their own fundraising, but I have not received a response. That is a huge fundraising challenge which leaves some wondering if the project is even feasible.

By the way, the agreement with Broomfield specifies that the remaining $12.5 million will not be released until the Pavilion has signed a construction contract. Implied in this requirement is that the Pavilion must have raised sufficient funds on its own to be in a position to sign a construction contract. Previously, construction was projected to start on the new facility in 2020 and be open to the public in 2021.

That looks pretty iffy in my opinion.

Creative vision at science technology park

I do want to give credit to Broomfield, Adams 12 Five Star School District and the Butterfly Pavilion for their creative visioning in putting the three entities together in what Broomfield has designated to be a “Science Technology Park.” It would include a District Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) center at the Town Centre within the McWhinney Baseline development of 900 acres. Regardless of where the future takes the Butterfly Pavilion, it is a valuable facility for the public’s education and enjoyment.

U.S. Supreme court declines to act on gerrymandering

In a 5-4 5 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected jumping into the blatant abuse of drawing boundaries for U.S. House of Representatives districts. What a disappointment, to say the least!

The majority opinion stated that partisan gerrymandering was none of their business and referred the matter back to the states to work out.

Obviously, without federal intervention or criteria the decision invites continued gerrymandering by the political party in power after the updated census figures come out every 10 years.

So, the cases involving North Carolina and Maryland that came before the high court will reverse the lower court decisions which held the respective district maps were unconstitutional.

What is especially irritating is that Chief Justice Roberts, who was the swing vote, wrote “Our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering.”

He went on to acknowledge that the North Carolina and Maryland maps are “highly partisan.” This decision is a huge destructive blow against “good government” and retains the old practice of partisan boundary-making.

Colorado leads the way on non-partisan approach

Coloradans can give themselves a pat on the back for the progressive action voters exercised last fall when Constitutional Amendments Y and Z were clearly approved.

These two amendments addressed the very thing that the Supreme Court Justices refused to address — partisan gerrymandering. The two amendments set up the framework and process using a less political approach in establishing boundaries both for U.S. Congressional districts as well as State Senate and House of Representatives districts.

Starting with the 2021 re-districting, an independent commission consisting of four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters will be appointed. Half of the commissioners will be randomly selected from a pool of applicants that will be narrowed by a team of three retired judges. The other half would be selected by a panel of retired judges to ensure geographic and demographic representation.

Applicants will be required to have spent between three and five years without being politically active as a paid campaign staffer, party official or lobbyist.

Statewide decision-making

Thanks to the bi-partisan coalition led by the League of Women Voters and Colorado voters’ approval, we in Colorado are much better off and far more progressive. Local decision-making carried the day. Little did we know last November how important Constitution Amendments Y and Z would turn out to be.

It just goes to show you - again — that when you’re in doubt about depending on the good intentions of others, it’s often best to just do it yourself.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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