It’s not too late, Cancel the Aquarium!

posted in: Govern.mental, Writings | 0

Sent to Onondaga County Legislators on March 26, 2024

We have now seen the reports that what the feasibility study said could work here is not financially feasible due to rising costs and has to be scaled back. This is concerning as the county’s very own feasibility study stated: “A smaller aquarium would face the risk of insufficient market drawing power, particularly for tourists and repeat visitation. This scenario shows that even at its mid-range attendance profile for the smaller aquarium, a much higher ratio of contributed revenues would be needed, and there would be greater financial risk of not achieving its mid-range attendance potential.” (page 2 of the study)

I am once again asking you to stop the aquarium project. With the site work that has been done on this parcel, let’s use the remaining funds to build housing for people. We need low income housing for these low income jobs that have been granted tax breaks like Destiny & Amazon. We need to provide housing for the people who work at these low paying jobs. It is not too late to pause this project! The next bid for the aquarium is not due until March 28th, 2024. The Legislature has the say on where our tax dollars go. You set aside 85 million for this project, you can take it back. 

We have a housing crisis and we have seen the headlines about how “family homelessness has exploded this year in Onondaga County. The numbers are staggering — triple what they were at this time last year and five times what they were before Covid-19, according to the Housing and Homeless Coalition of Central New York.” Investing over 80 million in housing for people will help our community so much more than an expensive aquarium many of us may not afford to enjoy. 

I also hope you will consider these comments from ZoOceanarium, a company that specializes in developing and operating aquarium and zoological facilities: “Quite simply put, the company believes the traditional aquarium, with a museum-like experience is on a dead-end path. Modern guests are no longer satisfied with walking around, simply looking through acrylic tanks at swimming fish.” 

“Considering there are other, well-established aquariums within a couple of hours drive and with one of the most respected aquariums in the country just a four and a half hour drive away, the result is a relatively sophisticated market compared to aquariums located in other cities. Due to this and just a general trend of modernizing public aquariums, zoos and museums, it is going to be imperative that Onondaga County Aquarium offers a markedly different experience than guests would get at other aquariums they may have visited. Experiences will need to be compelling enough to get residents coming back multiple times a year and also unique enough so to reliably attract a reasonable percentage of the visitor market.”

Please stop the aquarium project.

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