Plans to construct a $100 million-plus science museum in Easton have been called off.
Lin Erickson, executive director of the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, which has been planning the Da Vinci Science City, said the nonprofit no longer plans to go ahead with the project at that location, which was to be built along Easton’s riverfront.
The organization is now looking for other locations.
First introduced in 2016, the Science City concept originally included a saltwater aquarium, but the organization withdrew that costlier idea in favor of a nature dome. It was also to include displays and programming to promote science and technology education.
In a statement, Erickson said the decision was made after Da Vinci learned that Easton intended to rescind its previous financial commitment to support the project and to provide the Easton-owned site on Third Street.
The city had previously purchased the property for $5.9 million and demolished a hotel that had been located there to make room for the Da Vinci project.
“These commitments were leading factors in the Science Center’s original selection of Easton as the future site of the expansion project,” she said.
While Easton will no longer be the location of the science museum, Erickson said the center is committed to building it, just elsewhere.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment and vision for a major new science center,” she said. “Through the generous support of the State, Northampton County, our staff and board, and community leaders, we’ve made significant progress toward the planning and fundraising for the project which can be transferred and adapted to a new site.”
As of January, Erickson told Lehigh Valley Business that the organization had raised $52 million and had about $45 million “in the queue” towards the project.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. spoke at Wednesday’s City Council meeting about the project, The Morning Call reported. Panto said his administration grew leery of the project as it was whittled down to a 70,000-square-foot facility with a “NatureDome” so as to avoid competing with a proposed aquarium in the Poconos, the paper reported.