Beaumont's legacy: a children's museum | November 18, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Column - November 18, 2011

Beaumont's legacy: a children's museum

by Jeb Bing

In recent months, Dublin has been moving more aggressively among the Tri-Valley cities in luring major businesses and organizations to locate there. Target, which once eyed Pleasanton, has opened on the city's far east side; Sprouts, a unique food market, is to the west. Two new athletic/outdoor merchandisers, REI and Sports Authority, just opened in central Dublin. A few weeks ago, the Tri-Valley YMCA moved its headquarters from Pleasanton to Dublin, and the School of Imagination, which once sought space for a facility in Pleasanton, opened in Dublin thanks to financial support from the city.

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.


Posted by Thank you, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2011 at 11:31 am

Thank you for this concept, I applaud this very much. This area is prime for a children's museum. There are so many parents (including me) of young children. I often have to travel to San Jose, SF, or other distant places for my kids to enjoy and learn at the museums. I can't wait for this to open.

I also applaud the city of Dublin officials for getting involved and working hard to make this concept a reality. Didn't seem like Pleasanton or San Ramon put much effort into this...Shame on them.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Nov 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

what is a children's museum?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Foothill Place
on Nov 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm

After reading the article I'm curious as to why Pleasanton passed on so many business opportunities. I would think we would welcome the revenue sources. We accepted a BART station but turned away businesses. Can anyone clarify?

Posted by Old Time Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2011 at 9:37 am

Those are all chains and we are too sophisicated to have a chain in our downtown. I have often wondered how Quisnos ever got a permit to open a restaurant downtown. You will see more restaurants, etc. around Target once the outlet stores open. All those tax dollars going to Dublin and Livermore.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Foothill Place
on Nov 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm

And yet our schools keep asking for more help because our district can't give help due to the restricted budget. When will this town's leaders put aside their snobbish attitude and realize that we need all the revenue we can get.