Kite Museum buys building, expands 10-fold

<i>KEVIN HEIMBIGNER photo</I><BR>Kite Museum Director Kay Buesing installs a kite in a temporary location in the museum's beautiful new location in Long Beach.

July 10 open house will introduce public to new site on Sid Snyder DriveLONG BEACH - The World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame just got 10 times larger; thanks to the purchase of the York and Curtis building that formerly housed the Milton York Candy Factory and most recently the Long Beach Fitness Center.

"This new facility could be Long Beach's equivalent to the Maritime Museum in Astoria," according to Long Beach City Planner and project director, Jim Sayce.

"The size and location could make this a destination museum and be part of a very attractive tourist package that will include Fort Clatsop and the Maritime Museum in Oregon and the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center on this side of the River," Sayce said.

The Kite Museum is currently housed in a structure just north of Dennis Company that has less than 1,000 square feet and 8-foot ceilings.

The new structure is 10,360 square feet and is two stories tall with an ocean view and a grass area just right for kite demonstrations. There is also plenty of parking. The upstairs has a vaulted ceiling and part of the structure is open for the full two stories, just begging for dynamic kite displays to fill the area.

An open house July 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the site of the future World Kite Museum at West 303 Sid Snyder Drive will give the public an opportunity to see the structure and to donate toward its completion.

The purchase price will be approximately $1 million, with $200,000 of that being supplied up front from an anonymous donor. The museum committee is hoping $150,000 will be supplied from local donors and from donations from the kite community world-wide.

Museum Director Kay Buesing has already been very instrumental in applying for grants that would complete the funding if all goes well. About $50,000 of the purchase price will go to renovation of the existing building and $50,000 will be set aside for future improvements and contingencies.

For anyone who feels the $1 million price tag is extravagant, consider that the original plan was to spend $3.3 million to construct a similar structure west of the arch on Bolstadt Avenue. Washington State Parks had leased 9.6 acres on a 20-year renewable plan in 1998 to be used for construction of a new kite museum building.

Inflation steadily increased the original $3.3 million price tag and Helen Gundlach, who was hired in 2001 to head up funding for the project, saw her position terminated due to budget cuts. Subsequently the land to be leased was deeded to the city of Long Beach and a political attitude of not building west of the LB arch seems to prevail according to a press release made by the Kite Museum Board.

With an influx of tourists and tour buses expected next summer during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial the board and city council were pleased when an opportunity to move into an existing structure with an ideal location presented itself.

"The addition of a first-class kite museum building to go along with the many tourist attractions we already have in the area gives visitors a reason to stay for several days," Sayce commented.

Buesing was excited about the prospect of moving into the new building in the fall. At least four times as many kites and exhibits as are now on display in the present Kite Museum are in storage.

"With tourists coming for the Lewis and Clark celebration we are excited to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to make our kites and displays more visible," she said.

Local architect Eric Fagerland, builder Don Moore, and Seattle-based exhibit design expert Dennis Crowley have already contributed their ideas in hopes of making the new home for the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame a truly world-class facility.

Buesing says there will be several events in the coming months to spark interest in the new home for the museum and to give everyone an opportunity to contribute to the project.

Members of the board who helped negotiate the expansion deal besides Buesing and Sayce include board president Blaine Walker, local merchant; Dennis Long, CEO of The Bank of the Pacific; Elizabeth Hadley of Head Start; Jim Buesing, past president; Sherry Hash of Key Bank, and Ramon Nelson who retired from Boise Cascade.

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