It hasn’t been cleared for takeoff just yet, but the proposed space and science museum in Henderson now has $21 million worth of fuel in its tank.
In a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, Henderson City Council members transferred funds from the sale of city land to help spur development of the museum on a 160-acre site on U.S. Highway 95 near Russell Road.
The money is considered a gift to the Henderson Space and Science Center Board, which was formed by the city earlier this year to oversee the nonprofit corporation that will plan and run the attraction.
But the gift comes with some strings attached.
The money can be spent only on construction of a museum, and not until the City Council has approved the budget for the project.
The museum board must return the city’s money if the nonprofit cannot raise enough funds within 10 years to build the museum.
Preliminary estimates place the cost of the project at $61 million.
None of the city money can be spent until the corporation achieves nonprofit status.
Museum board members also will be required to give the City Council quarterly reports on the project and their fundraising efforts.
Mayor-elect Andy Hafen and City Councilman Steve Kirk voted against transferring the funds after expressing concerns over the terms of the deal and about the possibility of the city losing control of the money, particularly in tough economic times.
The $21 million gift comes from the city’s land fund, which can be used only for capital improvements or the acquisition of property, buildings, furniture and equipment.
Tuesday’s vote represented one of the final official acts for departing Mayor Jim Gibson and Councilman Jack Clark, both of whom are being forced from office by term limits.
Gibson and Clark sit on the museum board, and they will continue to serve there after they leave their city posts.
“This is the single most important thing I have been involved in, in my 16 years on the City Council.” Clark said of the museum.
Henderson originally obtained the property between U.S. Highway 95 and the massive Central Christian Church several years ago in hopes of building a spring training facility for a Major League Baseball team, but that plan never came to pass.
There has been talk of building a museum in Henderson for more than 15 years.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.