Panhandle Butterfly House (PBH)

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Pete
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Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:06 am

Article from Navarre Press, 3/8/2018, pg. B2
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Butterfly House prepares for renovations
By Jamie Gentry
jamie@navarrepress.com

As March brings warm­er weather the Panhandle Butterfly House (PBH) is preparing to open for what will likely be their last sea­son in the current building in Navarre Park.

That’s because the build­ing is expected to be de­molished after Monarch Madness and replaced with a new, interactive butter­fly learning facility and expanded vivarium.

Mary Salinas of the PBH said she is excited for the coming changes.

“I am most excited about really upping our game and having a really professional top notch butterfly exhibit in Navarre. We are making it a real show place,” she said.

The new facility will cost roughly $1 million to complete.

The updated butter­fly house is one part of a roughly $7 million planned renovation of the entire Navarre Park. Currently, the county has secured funding sources for the first phases of the plan at a price tag of roughly $4.3 million paid from:

$600,000 from District 4 recreation funds

$215,000 originally set aside for a Navarre Com­munity Center reallocated

$220,000 local option sales tax funds including Americans with Disabilities Act compliance funds

$230,000 RESTORE funds for stormwater projects

$500,000 from Tourism Development reserves

$2.5 million loan to be paid for with tourism bed tax allocation to start in fiscal year 2019.

Beyond the PBH’s new home the renovation includes:

New playgrounds

Expanded and re­worked splash pad

Restroom facility on the east side of the park

Removal of the duck pond

Stormwater improve­ments

Additional parking

Assistant County Ad­ministrator Dan Schebler said the county has begun moving forward with plans.

“Some geotechnical work has taken place at the park. The design and construction plan work is underway,” he said.

Once that is completed, existing park facilities will be demolished. Schebler said the demolition would not begin until after the PBH’s annual Monarch Madness event and season close.

After demolition begins, much of the PBH’s work will continue.

“There will be a whole lot of behind the scenes planning and getting ex­hibits designed and built,” Salinas said.“We are look­ing at having a museum quality exhibit. We are go­ing to have really top notch, interactive exhibits in the learning center.”

Salinas said they will continue outreach in the community, and there will also be fundraising efforts and grant applications underway.

She explained that while the county is paying to de­sign, permit and construct the facilities, they will have a really nice but empty building at the end.

What goes inside will be the PBH’s responsibility.

Once the new facility is opened, Salinas said they will conduct work year­round to educate the public and school groups. How­ever butterflies will not be available out of season.

“The vivarium is open to the environment. It will not be heated or cooled. That would be enormously expensive,” she said.

In the meantime the PBH will need volun­teers to conduct tours this season.

Butterfly house tours are usually scheduled Mon­day through Wednesday mornings. Volunteers will work in teams, educating visitors on the biology and habitat of butterflies and their importance in our ecosystem. New volun­teers are paired with sea­soned tour guides to learn the ropes.

“Aside from having a love and interest for but­terfl ies, pollinators and the environment, they need to be someone who likes to work with the public and teach them in a fun and integrated sort of environment,” Salinas said.

The 2018 tour guide training will be held March 23 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Navarre Visitor’s Center, 8543 Navarre Parkway.

Applicants must be 16 years or older to ap­ply. Registration for the training is due by March 19. Contact Salinas at maryd@santarosa.fl.gov to register.

Navarre Park renovation tentative timeline.

Complete permitting, design and construction (sic - I think may have meant "contracting", not "construction"?), Nov. 30 (2018?). Complete construction of park facilities, Nov. 30, 2019. Panhandle Butterfly House Learning Center May, 31, 2020.
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As can see, for most or all of 2019, there will be no Navarre Park facities east of the Visitors Information Center (VIC). e.g., besides no PBH, no splash pad, no playground, no parking, etc.
And, of course, permanent removal of the unhealthy, smelly, stagnant water, so-called "turtle/duck pond".

Regarding the below concept drawings, especially the PBH facility, they are "concept" only.

For example, it shows a 20+foot high butterfly flight cage ("vivarium"), but the butterflies tend to congregate near the ceilings - so for folks to see better the vivarium will be only 8-12 feet high, which should cut costs.
Also, shows two separate buildings. That was due to original concept of building only the vivarium first, and the learning center several years later (working out of a temporary building/trailer. or ???).
Now both will be built at same time, and be "connected" - enter/leave the vivarium through the learning/reception center. That also should cut cost.
Also probably will not have the wrap-around porch (listed at $59 per square foot!?) and/or other "visual enhancements" and other final design cost savings.
2017.NavarreParkSitePlan.jpg
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2017.PBH.archPlan.jpg
2017.PBH.archPlan.jpg (45.85 KiB) Viewed 2751 times
Cheers, Pete
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EconProf
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Sun Mar 11, 2018 11:26 am

I thought the butterfly house was privately owned. It may have been when my wife and I visited the butterfly house in the 1990 when we made our annual Thanksgiving trip to the Holidome. Of course, it wasn't the right time for butterflies but we enjoyed it. Was it government owned in the 1990's?

I rather call butterflies -- flutterbys. I got my daughters to say flutterbys. Now, my four grandchild call them flutterbys. I hope there will be some flutterbys when the great-grandchildren get here.
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AngelGirl
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Sun Mar 11, 2018 1:32 pm

EconProf, this may answer some of your questions:

http://panhandlebutterflyhouse.org/about-us/

"Brief History

The Panhandle Butterfly House was founded by Jack and Fonda Wetherell in 1997. The exhibit was started as a cooperative program of the Santa Rosa Clean Community System, Inc., the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service and the Navarre, Florida, Chamber of Commerce. The PBH was built entirely through volunteer labor. The original building was replaced by the existing structure in 2003 following Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis.

The PBH operates as a non-profit program of Keep Santa Rosa Beautiful, Inc., and the UF/IFAS Cooperative Extension Service with the support of the Florida Master Gardeners

In 2015, over 14,000 people visited the exhibit; guests were from 48 states, 2 territories, and 17 foreign countries. PBH programs have been recognized by several awards: the Curtis Kingsbery Award by the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society, the Award of Excellence in Service to 4-H and Other Youth by the Florida Master Gardeners, the Best Horticultural Program in the Nation by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, and Member of the Month by the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce."


This is a fantastic LOCAL area educational attraction, very family-friendly, promoting the benefits of keeping a healthy environment for all of our "flutter-byes" (honey bees, butterflies and other helpful insects)!" A great place to visit ... and well worthy of generous donations!
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EconProf
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Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:26 pm

So I must have visited the Butterfly House shortly after it was built.
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Pete
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Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:43 am

EconProf wrote:I thought the butterfly house was privately owned. It may have been when my wife and I visited the butterfly house in the 1990 when we made our annual Thanksgiving trip to the Holidome. Of course, it wasn't the right time for butterflies but we enjoyed it. Was it government owned in the 1990's?
Kind of a combo. It was originially built (1997), and rebuilt (2003) entirely with volunteer labor and donated materials - and ongoing operational costs and maintence, the same. However, it sits on county land, pays no property taxes, and the county covers the water and electricity.
So while "privately" run - it is "owned" (sort of) by the county. Also, note the liaisons with the county extension office and the county "Keep Santa Rosa Beautiful" organizations - both county or semi-county offices. Also, working a cooperative agreement with University of Florida, and their butterfly house.
With the park renovation it will be removed - and replaced - by the county (if were left to the volunteers and donars not sure would have the wherewithall to do so). Since county decision to remove, the replace is "compensation"? Anyway, drafting a new MOU with the county as to who does what - and after the new PBH built the operations will remain dependent on volunteers and donations. (At least for the near future?).
Cheers, Pete
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Sun Dec 09, 2018 8:20 am

Navarre Press, 12/06/18, page A1 and continued pp. A8

Panhandle Butterfly House
Seeks third option
By Jamie Gentry
jamie@navarrepress.com

In the ongoing saga of the Panhandle Butterfly House’s (PBH) future, a de­cision could finally come next Thursday at the San­ta Rosa Board of County Commissioners meeting.
But that answer may not be what the PBH leadership wants to hear.

Following public com­ments by commissioners and the recommendation of County Administrator Dan Schebler, county funds for a replacement butterfly house may be going to a different nonprofit: the Em­erald Coast Wildlife Refuge (ECWR).

Opposing plans

PBH past-president and current board lead Louise Biernesser said the PBH is opposed to that plan.

“We were totally blind­sided. I was so angry…It doesn’t matter that we have been there 21 years, that we have always been in the black. We were never about money. We are about edu­cating on pollinators,” she said.

And she said the public and volunteer statements agree that the PBH needs to stay in south Santa Rosa County.

See BUTTERFLY HOUSE 8A

Article Continued Below
Butterfly House

Continued from page 1A

The PBH is a program of the nonprofit Keep Santa Rosa Beautiful that has been doing business in Navarre Park for 21 years. The PBH’s current facility is scheduled to be demolished at the start of 2019 as part of the overhaul of Navarre Park. Original discussions centered on building a new facility in the park at a cost of more than $1 million.

Then a plan was brought forward to partner the PBH with the ECWR at the wildlife refuge’s new location in Holley at a reduced cost of $550,000. That option has gained county staff’s support, while a business plan put forward by the PBH was met with criticism.

The two organizations have stopped conversations, but the ECWR may still receive the funds.

“We have basically stopped talking with them. We see no utility in further discussions,” said ECWR board director Bill Andersen. “I don’t think I can in good conscience ask my board to do negotiations with them.”

“We will not go with them. Parking is an issue,” among otherconcerns, Biernesser said.

This apparently means that if the County Commission follows the recommendation to build a butterfly vivarium on ECWR property, the PBH leadership will not follow.

“From what I am hearing from the butterfly folks it is, ‘We stay in the park or we will close up shop,’” Andersen said.“We are trying to do what they don’t seem able to do, which is come up with a solution that is fiscally feasible for the taxpayer. I think a butterfly house is beneficial for the community.”

Needed knowledge

He said the wildlife refuge plans to move forward with or without the PBH if the county approves the funds.

“I still think it is a great idea. I think Navarre needs a butterfly house,” Andersen said.

But Biernesser said a butterfl y house is likely to fail without the support of volunteers that understand butterfly and caterpillar physiology.

She pointed out that PBH volunteers have decades of experience, and their ranks include trained master gardeners and naturalists. They have been cultivating host plants that cannot be bought at commercial gardening outlets, identifying and treating diseases and providing an ideal habitat based on researchbyUF/IFAS, Biernesser said. The PBH has had a longstanding partnership with IFAS, including having horticulturalist Mary Salinas as an advisor to the Butterfly House board.

ECWR officials have stated they plan to hire staff to support a vivarium, including experts on the subject, if the facility were to be built on their property.

Andersen said he also suspects that even if the PBH program does not partner with ECWR, some volunteers may bring their knowledge to the new location anyway.

“I can’t speak for the Panhandle Butterfly House volunteers, but the mess that the leadership and the more militant volunteers have made, I would imagine there are some volunteers that just want to get back to running a butterfly house,”he said.

Petition backs park location Since Schebler’s recommendation was made public, PBH volunteer and ex-ECWR volunteer Nancy Forester started a petition on Change. org pleading for the public to throw support behind keeping the PBH in Navarre Park. That petition has gathered more than 4,700 signatures.

In the petition description, Forester points out that the PBH has expressed its desire to stay in the park with support from members of the public. It calls for citizens to sign the petition, to email commissioners and to attend the BOCC meetings Dec. 10 and 13.

Andersen said he is concerned by the petition because of statements made about ECWR that he says are false. Forester left docent work with the ECWR under unfriendly terms, according to a letter she sent to Navarre Press.

In the petition, Forester asserts that ECWR is unable to pay its employees and unable to get a mortgage.

Andersen said not only is that not true but as a volunteer— not a board member— Forester would not have access to that information.

“It is absolutely false. We have not gone looking for a mortgage. For a nonprofit to be in debt is a bad thing. We are a debt-free organization and want to make sure it stays that way,” he said.

Another statement of concern dealt with the budget.

“So, the only way they (ECWR) can build is to get the PBH money, share the education building and they say they will build a vivarium and they will hire staff for it!” Forester wrote.

Andersen said that is partially true. In public statements, he has said the funds to cover the cost of construction have not been fully raised. As of the October reports, ECWR was $365,237 short of its goal for construction.

Of the $550,000 included in the county plan, roughly $300,000 would be considered a lease fee for utilizing the property for the next 25 to 30 years, depending on a final contract.

When asked if the county funds are“the only way they can build,”Andersen said no.

“It is absolutely not true,” he said.“Would it be incredibly helpful? Yes.”

Andersen explained that ECWR has continued fundraising as though the county vivarium funds are not on the table, and as fundraising efforts bring in donations, ECWR moves forward with construction.

Andersen said the county’s decision on the funding for a vivarium would mean a faster completion but would not determine whether it could or could not happen.

Option C

But the PBH’s ability to build a new facility could be entirely dependent on the BOCC’s decision. When asked about fundraising efforts, Biernesser said there had not been any due to uncertainty about the future location.

The PBH has been working to improve its business plan. Biernesser said Pam Murphy, the recently hired director for the PBH and its first paid employee, has been working 16-hour days to perfect the plan, including securing backup documentation and running the numbers.

“We have a damn good business plan, and no matter what happens that business plan will carry us forward,” Biernesser said.

Acknowledging that building on the waterfront will drive up costs, Biernesser said PBH is now asking for an alternative, an option C to allow the it to build a new facility of its own on a different piece of property in south Santa Rosa.

“Please, county, give us an option C. Let us find property. Give us a grant. Something so we can go forward. There is not an option C right now,” she said.“We can do so much more, but we are limited by space.”

Option C—along with A and B--will likely be discussed by the county commissioners next week, ultimately deciding where the tax dollars will go.
Cheers, Pete
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Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:34 pm

Pete, thanks for posting this update!
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