Now the long-planned Valley Children's Museum also is going to Dublin. A project pushed for years by former Pleasanton resident and businessman Rick Beaumont, the museum is about to receive 2-1/2 acres on a Camp Parks site that is being split up among the military, a developer and the city of Dublin. The Dublin City Council insisted on the land grant in another move to add more nonprofits in the city. Beaumont approached Pleasanton leaders about providing a place for a children's museum, which will be patterned after Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose and others in Sausalito and Stockton. Finding little interest, he and the Valley Children's Museum board of directors approached San Ramon, whose leaders offered space in its new City Center. A few years passed before the board realized that it could be many years, if ever, before the San Ramon center is built. Dublin officials, learning of the plight, jumped in with their offer of financial and logistical help.
As a starter, Beaumont and his group acquired a large Mervyn's children's activities trailer, which was part of the retail store's roving tractor-and-trailer exhibit fully equipped and staffed that went to Mervyn's stores around the country. Beaumont accepted the gift of the trailer -- before Mervyn's declared bankruptcy -- and the unit is now a showplace of the Valley Children's Museum to come with its weekly displays and shows at the Thursday night Farmers Markets in Dublin. Hundreds visited the exhibits all summer long, seeing models and working displays about early California, crafts and art. Volunteers worked with children to make dolls out of cornhusks the way they did in the 1800s. Each week, the theme of the exhibit changed, from early missions to water conservation presentations by Zone 7 representatives to stories about early Native Americans in the Tri-Valley area.
Beaumont, who with his wife Nicole has four children, always had a passion for creating more places and activities that focus on very young children. Seeing the crowds at the Discovery Museum made him ask why we couldn't have something similar closer to home. Surveys he and the newly formed board of directors championed showed widespread interest in an activity center for children up to 7 years old. But it's not cheap and finding volunteers on a regular basis isn't easy. Mervyn's spent about $500,000 on the mobile exhibit that the Valley group is using. Dublin provides space in its Emerald Park free of charge. With a tractor and driver, there's no reason the exhibit couldn't be moved from time to time to other places, say, Pleasanton's Sports Park or the Fairgrounds, or to Livermore. Eventually, once the Camp Parks site is clearly identified and dedicated to the museum, the mobile unit can be moved there.
The partnership the Valley Children's Museum has established with the city of Dublin and Camp Parks has come none too soon for Beaumont. An investment and financial planner since he graduated from Cal Poly 17 years ago when he moved to Pleasanton, he has resigned as chairman of the museum board effective Jan. 1, seven years after he took on the job. Now 40, he says it's time for others to take on the task of finally building the museum. He plans to stay in touch, however, promising to be among the first in line with his family when it finally opens, hopefully in 2013.