042717 State park: New nature center will open in May 2018
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The nature center was a popular feature of the park before it was destroyed by fire last summer.

State park: New nature center will open in May 2018

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Work will be completed next May on the replacement of the nature center at Huntington Beach State Park under a proposal presented this week to state lawmakers.

The $855,189 project passed through the Joint Bond Review Committee of House and Senate members without comment on Wednesday.

“I think that’s great,” said Sally Kelly, president of the Friends of Huntington Beach State Park, which has been raising money to replace the exhibits in the facility. “That’s a little sooner than we were told.”

Brenda Magers, the park manager, was not available for comment.

The nature center was destroyed by an early morning lightning fire in July 2016. The 3,000-square-foot building that overlooked the south end of Murrells Inlet was built in 2002 at a cost of $880,000.

The state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism contacted the original architect to update the plans to conform to current building codes. It received $599,900 from the Insurance Reserve Fund. Another $241,912 will come from state Park Service revenue. The new center will have 3,300 square feet, according to the project description presented to lawmakers.

PRT’s proposal to the review committee said it plans to issue the contract for construction in September with work to be completed in May 2018.

The Friends of Huntington Beach have raised $35,000 to replace the exhibits and wildlife that were destroyed in the fire. They don’t have a set goal or an actual replacement cost. “If we can put more exhibits in there, we will,” Kelly said. “Anything we do is a fundraiser for the nature center.”

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