New education center still planned for Arboretum
Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 30, 2016
Since 2004, members of the Crosby Arboretum Foundation Board have been finalizing the plans for a new education center. Now they are getting closer to seeing those plans come to fruition.
The original education center opened in 1985 as a living memorial to L. O. Crosby Jr., said Arboretum Foundation Board President Ruth Cook.
In 2004, the arboretum engaged Howorth & Associates Architects to design the education center. The initial purpose of the center was to be a permanent multi-purpose education center for employees as well as visitors, Cook said.
The new education center will be 7,500-square feet and will serve as a similar dynamic expansion of the role that the Pinecote Pavilion serves for the general public.
Cook said some of the features and services it will provide include, “meeting rooms, gallery for rotating exhibits, staff offices and storage, library, outdoor terrace classrooms, herbarium and a vital space to conduct programs and multimedia presentations in a room to accommodate 130 people.”
Two years after hiring architects to design the education center, Cook said the Crosby Arboretum Foundation began the process of raising funds for the project. Cook said they have currently raised a little over 25 percent of the projected cost to complete construction.
“To date, approximately $786,000 has been secured from board members, friends of the arboretum and grants. With ties to the forestry community, foundation members plan to reach out to forest products businesses in the coming months for potential substantial material donations,” said Cook.
As of now, there is not an official timeline for completion of the project, but Cook hopes it will be within the next couple of years.
“We wish it could be tomorrow. Realistically we needed this education center 10 years ago, so the quicker we can move on to this project the better,” said Cook.
Mississippi State University has a ranking of capital projects it has to complete. Cook said the education center is moving up on that list.
Cook encourages local business owners to help fund this much-needed facility.
Cook and the foundation are open to any donations and contributions from volunteers, with naming incentives available.