The Discover the Delta Information Center, which has recently broken ground, promises to put the Delta on the map and place that map into hundreds of visitors' hands each day.
The 7,000-square-foot, two-story center will be located on two acres at the intersection of highways 12 and 160, about 10 miles north of the Antioch Bridge. According to Ken Scheidegger, president of the Discover the Delta Foundation, between 8 and 10 million vehicles converge on the intersection annually, making it one of the busiest in the state.
You can anticipate several hundred people a day coming to the site, Scheidegger said in a presentation at the Sept. 9 Oakley City Council meeting. That was before we tossed in a fruit stand. Now they might get apples and then come in for a road map on how to have fun going home along the way. We have an opportunity here that is huge.
Scheidegger, a Delta business owner, former oceanographer and son of a Delta farmer, thought up the idea for the center two years ago after attending a conference on the Delta.
We all gathered to review how great and wonderful things were at the conference, he said. A lady said no one was saying anything about recreation in the Delta. A farmer said the same thing for farming. A scientist said there was only one scientist at the talk. Something in me personally snapped. There's a lot more of this Delta story to be told. I think we have a really neat story to tell here.
That story will include Native Americans, the Gold Rush, the dredging and creation of the Delta islands, the Chinese Americans who built many of the levees and the Delta's recreational offerings. Visitors will be greeted by a person who welcomes them to the Delta and hands them a map that includes many of the Delta's scenic locales, restaurants and businesses.
The Discover the Delta Foundation is currently beginning the grading on the $3 million project and will do as much work as it can based on donated labor and materials plus available contributions. But more support will be needed to complete the project, so Scheidegger came looking for Oakley's help.
I am going to encourage you to make a donation, he said, and work in our community to spread the word and get this center in. We have to get the Delta people to get off their backsides and face the Delta of tomorrow. They need to see it, feel it, believe it and understand it. I'm as ambitious as heck. We will do it with or without you. It would be much better to welcome you to the opening.
The council members were glad to provide that support.
I can hardly wait. It's going to happen, said Councilwoman Pat Anderson.
Councilwoman Carol Rios said, The Delta Science Center (in Oakley) has languished for 22 years. It's two minutes from our City Hall. I am impressed by your passion and that you've moved forward. It's everything the Delta Science Center wanted to be.
We need to get together, said Mayor Bruce Connelley. The Delta Science Center and the Discover the Delta Center could partner up and complement each other.
Scheidegger said there will be a large map on the wall of his center that will include Oakley's Delta Science Center.
His foundation has also launched a Welcome to the Delta sign program so that people might get some sense of where the Delta is. One sign will be near the Antioch Bridge and another near Discovery Bay.
The Discover the Delta Foundation needs $1 million more to make the center a reality. For more information, visit www.discoverthedelta.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 916-777-4442.