Kennedy to raise funds for Water Discovery Center

By Brian Sweeney
Environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. has agreed to co-chair a leadership chair for the capital campaign for the proposed Water Discovery Center in Arkville.
Organizers of the Water Discovery Center (WDC) planned for Arkville are hoping to involve a number of heavy-hitters to assist with their fund-raising efforts for the $25 million project. Mr. Kennedy is the first big name to come on board. He is an environmental lawyer and a professor at Pace University Law School.
Among the other major players being approached to lend their talents and star power to the fund-raising effort are former Vice President Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Former VP Gore’s efforts to raise awareness about the environment are well documented and earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Mr. DiCaprio has been involved in a number of projects dedicated to exposing the precarious state of the earth, including the recent film “Water Planet.”
Organizers are also approaching several other famous personalities to lend their support to the project.
Martie Gailes, administrative manager for the WDC, said that much of the funding for the project will be from private sources.
“We anticipate funding will come primarily from New York City-based individual philanthropists, foundations and corporations. We have planned for a three-year campaign and breaking ground depends on the success of that campaign. We estimate 18 months for construction. Depending on the campaign, we hope to open our doors in 2013-14,” she explained.
The WDC is planned for county Route 38 in Arkville. The museum would include a 62,000-square–foot educational/exhibit center and a separate institute, plus a 145-seat theater and conference center.
The concept behind the museum is to “tell the story of water itself.” The museum will highlight every aspect of the world’s most precious natural resource, including the lingering effects of the ill-will created when New York City began taking Catskill lands to create reservoirs to supply its water needs.
With every day bringing an increased focus on the precious nature of water, the organizers feel that the Water Discovery Center will continue to take on importance as a vital informational resource.
The WDC is seen by organizers as a means to “promote change through public awareness, drive government policy and accountability, build industry-wide consensus and foster individual and collective responsibility and initiative.”
In addition, the WDC is viewed as having great significance not only for the region, but for the nation and the world community. The organizers envision the center as a means to draw attention to the crisis of diminishing supplies of clean water throughout the world.
Exhibits at the WDC will be designed to be both educational and to inspire visitors to take action to protect the world’s water supplies.
The center will present in great detail “one of the most extraordinary municipal water systems in the world” — the Catskill watershed system that provides water for the greater New York City.
The facility will also be utilized as a teaching institution that will offer year-round indoor and outdoor programs. Plans call for the center to be located on a 43-acre site. The WDC will include areas for on-site environmental studies on the adjacent wetlands and river areas.
Organizers are anticipating that the WDC will attract more than 100,000 visitors annually.