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Onondaga County legislators asking for answers about proposed aquarium project

Mary Kuhn expresses concerns about the proposed aquarium project
Jessica Cain
Legislator Mary Kuhn expresses concerns about the proposed aquarium project

The controversial proposal to put an aquarium in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor could be one step closer to becoming a reality soon.

On Tuesday, the Ways and Means Committee of the Onondaga County Legislature is scheduled to consider releasing money from a contingency fund that would move the project forward.

On Monday, Democratic Legislator Mary Kuhn held a rally outside the courthouse on Montgomery St. and spoke out against the plan.

"I like aquariums. I've been to aquariums. I think they're fun,” said Kuhn. “I don't think that we should have the taxpayers paying for it and maintaining it. That's my issue."

Kuhn said she’s been asking questions for months about the plan and is still waiting for answers. Some of the things she’d like to know include details on how the proposed price tag of $85 million would be broken down and why the county isn’t looking for private sector partners for the deal,

Now, Kuhn said she thinks a vote is imminent and is encouraging people who have similar concerns to contact their legislators within the next week.

Democratic Legislator Peggy Chase said instead of the aquarium, she’d like to see the money used for improvements to health care, mental health services, and infrastructure.

"I know they're not glamorous things, and they're nothing you can put your name on, but at least they would be something that would help our constituents," said Chase.

The County Executive’s office said historic investments are already being made to social services, and the point of the aquarium project would be to boost tourism, a sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

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

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.