DOWNEY – Admission fees to the Columbia Memorial Space Center will now be waived for all Downey students, thanks to last night’s City Council decision.
The unanimous 4-0 vote will grant all students who are attending Downey schools (public or private) or who are residents of the city free admission to the space museum, which is NASA’s official memorial to the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster that claimed the lives of the Columbia’s seven crew members.
With the approval of the fee waiver, the CMSC will now finalize a procedure and school outreach plan in the coming weeks. Then, children and their immediate families will be encouraged to visit the space center with a report card verifying their status as a Downey school student or student residing in the city.
Upon that initial visit, students and their party will gain free entry into the museum, however only the student will be given a free admission card.
From that point on, only students with a valid free admission card will be granted free access. Field trips and private parties are not included in free admission.
CMSC President and Executive Director Ben Dickow expects that the change will be ready to “roll out” in about a month.
Dickow said he was ecstatic over the council’s decision.
“This is going to be a great service for the students in Downey and all the kids in the area,” said Dickow. “Like I mentioned before I really do want the space center to be more of a community gathering place and this is one more step to that.”
Mayor Alex Saab has been pushing for this change since taking up his mayoral duties late last year. Saab described the decision as “a very big bold move by the council.”
“I think this an awesome step forward for our residents,” said Saab. “I think we’re gonna have that center to be –once again – a big center point in our city, and this is the way to do it. Five dollars shouldn’t prohibit or be an obstacle for a kid to be able to go to the center, be motivated, do their homework and learn. So this really is a win-win for everybody.”
Council Member Luis Marquez was absent from Wednesday’s meeting and was therefore not a part of the decision.