The former Camarillo Library, located at 3100 Ponderosa Drive, will soon be donated to nonprofit kidSTREAM to develop an interactive children’s museum.
On March 24, the Camarillo City Council unanimously announced its intention to donate the building and approved an amendment from the original agreement to make it possible. The original terms, first set in 2018, anticipated a sale of the property at an appraisal cost of about $900,000.
“The City Council’s recognition of the value that kidSTREAM will bring to our city and our region is not only a vote of confidence in the foundational work that so many have poured into this project, but it is an affirmation of the direction we are going,” Kristie Akl, founder and board president of kidSTREAM, said in a statement. “kidSTREAM will be an economic driver for our region, and by securing the location we will be able to exponentially increase our reach and help bridge the learning gap that has become even wider during the pandemic.”KidSTREAM – with the “stream” standing for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and mathematics, has been operating with a “museum without walls” model since 2018, hosting public outreach events and workshops from a single room within the former library building, called the “vision room.” The donation of the building will allow for the museum’s expansion and renovation of the property.
Last February, just before coronavirus restrictions altered plans for further development, Michael Shanklin joined kidSTREAM as its executive director. Shanklin had previously worked on the board of the Pasadena children’s museum Kidspace. His vision for the new building is to serve a geographic region which has historically had limited access to museums, especially for children.
“It’s important that every child has access to high-quality, enriching programming that inspires them to be who they are,” Shanklin said in an interview. The new museum will include free entry for families who receive state benefits and include exhibits that examine the history of the region. “All we want to do is really introduce them to a wide variation of content, a wide variation of learning styles and then they’ll self-select what they’re interested in and that’s when the magic happens.”Once an environmental study and CEQA review is complete, renovations can begin on the existing building. KidSTREAM is currently fundraising for the first of two planned phases to update the interior and exterior.
The first phase, set to break ground as soon as the CEQA review is approved by the city, includes $1.5 million in building upgrades and renovating the existing outdoor space. Phase two will include more comprehensive renovations once the museum has been open for several years and raises $15 million to complete the project. Shanklin said he anticipates an opening in summer or fall 2022, so long as fundraising and construction goes according to plan.
“Now more than ever, kids need this kind of learning and this kind of inspiration on the heels of a very rough last year,” Shanklin said.