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Onondaga County lawmaker expresses concerns about proposed aquarium

An artist rendering of a proposed $85 million aquarium in the Inner Harbor section of Syracuse
Onondaga County
An artist rendering of a proposed $85 million aquarium in the Inner Harbor section of Syracuse

A video on the Onondaga County parkswebsite makes a pitch for bringing an aquarium to Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, and people who live in the county are asked to sign a petition in support of the project.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the project would draw half a million visitors a year and create hundreds of jobs.

But with a price tag of $85 million, Democratic County Legislator Mary Kuhn is asking county leaders to take it one step at a time.

"People are interested. Who wouldn't be interested in a pretty aquarium?” said Kuhn. “The question is the finances. Is this going to put Onondaga County in a difficult or a bad fiscal situation in the future?”

Kuhn said she’d like to see Town Hall style meetings in the four quadrants of the county to provide the public with information about the proposal and hear whether constituents believe this is the best use of taxpayer money.

But Republican Legislator Julie Abbott said she thinks the project is extremely exciting, and while she’d still welcome input from the public, she thinks the executive branch has done a thorough job providing legislators with information.

"I feel it is now our job to go out for ourselves and research this,” said Abbott. “You call and you study. I've talked to environmental planners. I have looked at studies for and against and why aquariums are good, why they're a horrible failure for communities. You've got to do your own due diligence after that."

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.