MOSART downtown project ‘on indefinite hold’
ROME — Project Fibonacci Foundation Chairman Andrew Drozd announced Wednesday that his Multiversity of Science, Art and Technology — MOSART — Center planned for downtown is “on indefinite hold” due to lack of funds.
Drozd said the foundation’s board of directors decided to table the project indefinitely pending future developments. In a released statement, Drozd stated that fundraising over the past year has “substantially fallen short of anticipated goals.”
He said approximately one-third of the original $1 million goal was raised to date for the purposes of acquiring and renovating a suitable building downtown.
“Unfortunately, but for good reason, the foundation did not want to be in a position of assuming a considerable debt and take on mortgage risk due to the significant fundraising shortfall, especially with interest rates continuing to climb,” Drozd said. “It came down to a couple of building options and negotiations were under way. However, considerable renovations would be required to make them suitable and ready for our near-term use, which would delay our 2023-24 programs and partner collaborations, increase financial risk, and further extend our runway for sustainability well into the future.”
It has been nearly a year since non-profit Project Fibonacci Foundation first announced plans for an early to mid-2023 launch of the MOSART Center in downtown — part interactive museum featuring modern techno-art and traditional art works, part local venue for special guest speaker events and community activities, and part metro-hub for local STEM plus Arts (STEAM) leadership education and entrepreneurship programs.
Drozd further stated that foundation executives felt it important to update the local community of the project’s infeasibility because of the lack of adequate funding and the renovation costs required for building suitability, pointing out that the project could be revisited if future indicators are positive, but that the center may not be based in Downtown Rome.
Drozd said he was emphatic about the foundation’s other on-going STEAM projects namely, the drone and rover camps for middle and high school students, ILift reading-literacy program for preschoolers, ESTEAMed Speaker Series, and its flagship annual STEAM conference scheduled for July 23-29 at venues located at Griffiss Technology & Business Park. The foundation will concentrate on the conference, and further information on the event will be announced in mid-March, Drozd said.
“Despite our best efforts, we were unable to secure enough private and public funding, and wide community stakeholder engagement in the project was marginal with little feedback received from community leaders,” said Drozd about MOSART. “There are no other viable building options in the downtown corridor that work, and the competition for local funds by other worthy projects in the area adds to our challenges.”
Drozd went on to say that tapping into Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) funds was not an option, and discussions with local community leaders and political stakeholders led to no timely, viable alternatives or other incentives. Drozd said he was disappointed in the waning outreach assistance by local leaders after last November’s election, when the demeanor suddenly shifted from one of “How can I help?” to “Why are you here?” — giving further reason for pausing the project.
Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said there had been several meetings and discussions initially about MOSART, with many centering around the lack of funding and long-term sustainability of the project.
Izzo said Friday that Drozd’s proposed MOSART project announced last year was “too late” for DRI funding, as monies that were awarded in 2017 had already been committed to other projects. The mayor said it was the city’s understanding that a small committee was working on MOSART — trying to find a location downtown, but one was not feasible for intended operations of the STEAM center.
The committee “was trying to find out if the project was feasible and sustainable, and how they would maintain the operating costs,” said Izzo.
The mayor noted the Business Assistance Fund that would be available toward the project. However, she said funding is capped at $50,000 “and they were looking for bigger dollars.”
“They (Project Fibonacci Foundation) identified charitable giving organizations, but the city itself doesn’t have the funding to commit to such a large project,” said Izzo, adding that the committee was offered other funding possibilities. “The city isn’t against it — it’s a nice fit for downtown — but it’s a very ambitious project. The big question was its sustainability for the future.”
Izzo said once established and programming grew, MOSART could be eligible for Community Development Block Grant funding in the future.
Drozd further acknowledged the support of the Griffin Charitable Foundation, Patty Peterson of Peterson’s Exotic Pets, Michael and Patrice Hayes, Syracuse Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Barton & Loguidice, Norm Gagnon of the Arnold Group, ANDRO Computational Solutions, LLC and other private donors. The foundation is in the process of refunding the contributions made to the MOSART project and is offering its donors the option of redirecting their support on behalf of the 2023 STEAM conference.
Foundation executives are seeking feedback from community members and stakeholders to consider future options. Visit projectfibonacci.org for additional information about the foundation’s STEAM programs. Contact Andrew Drozd at email@example.com or call 315-335-1238 for further information.
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