By Kiera Morgan
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners heard a report from Mark Farley with the OSU Extension Sea Grant program on a feasibility study he was asked to do by Commissioner Thompson to expand the public education center. “There are a lot of great things happening with the marine science industry in South Beach. NOAA has become a very visible symbol of marine science in the area.” Farley added “With all of this excitement there is an opportunity to create a larger public education venue in South Beach centered specifically around NOAA’s mission and ocean science.”
“We get a lot of questions about NOAA and what they do from visitors. The NOAA facility however is not open to the public.” What was proposed was an expansion of the Hatfield Marine Science Center Visitor Center, focused on NOAA. “This isn’t just a display or a sign that you read, but really engaging the public in all the federal and state assets that we benefit from.” Farley said “Giving people a sense of what ocean exploration looks like is invaluable.”
He told commissioners that right now they get about 2,000 people a day during the peak times at Hatfield Marine Science Center and the new facility, which was proposed to add 18-20,000 square feet, would allow for increased visitor-ship to 4-5,000 people per day. He also told the commissioners that NOAA has a lot of assets that could be transferred to a site like this. There are a lot of partners that could help to contribute. It could also include tsunami education. Commissioner Thompson said right now this is just a concept but he would like to see it develop further in the future.