Oxnard will be losing its children’s museum by the end of the year thanks to its location in a blighted neighborhood, its governing board president said Tuesday.
Gull Wings’ board of directors will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to decide when to officially close the 28-year-old museum located near Fourth and C streets, Board President Julia Chambers said.
"The neighborhood has gone downhill; we’ve been struggling against that," Chambers said. "Our visitors have been declining because they don’t feel safe."
Noting that Oxnard’s main police station is nearby at Third and C streets, Chambers emphasized that she thinks people are as safe in that neighborhood as they would be in any other part of the city.
"I wouldn’t send people to work there if they weren’t," Chambers said, adding that the decision to close is also financial, because of low attendance. "It’s gotten to the point where we are no longer able to continue in that location."
The move comes despite support for the museum from the Oxnard Downtown Improvement District, whose board made the museum a priority at a March 5 goal-setting meeting.
ODID Executive Director Abel Magana agreed that museum’s location has been a drawback, noting he had heard reports that the alley next to the museum is regularly used for public drinking and illegal dumping.
Magana added that the city’s "deferred maintenance" of the museum building has left it needing new wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning.
ODID’s board has suggested moving the museum to the former Social Security office next to Plaza Park, which has been vacant for three years.
But moving the museum to that location would require a lengthy public hearing process, said City Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez.
The city would have to buy the building after it is placed on the market, which, in turn, requires the city to approve a recommendation from the successor to its former Redevelopment Agency.
"We’ve got to have a community discussion about that," Ramirez said Tuesday. "If the people want to decide to keep it, the city has to buy it; it needs to be appraised."