H-MORRO BAY

May 20, 2013 8:32 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Morro Bay considers future of aquarium

The city of Morro Bay is taking a hard look at the future of its aquarium.

The aging aquarium is in need of upgrades and an extension on the current lease may depend on them.

There is no doubt the Morro Bay Aquarium is beloved by many who visit it.

"They have a lot of fun, they jump, get excited, they laugh," said John Alcorn, director of the aquarium.

Originally built in the 1960s, Alcorn's grandparents have been running the iconic facility since 1968.

"My grandpa was on the original construction crew when the building was first built," said Alcorn.

But after four and a half decades of smiles, the aging facility is in need of a facelift and its future may hinge on it.

The current 50-year lease is up in 2018 and the city is asking the owners to make more than $250,000 in upgrades before a new lease can be signed. It's an amount that could sink the historic facility.

"The dollar amount and the government regulations have to balance out," said Alcorn.

The main attraction is the sea lion feeding tank. Although the up close and personal interaction with the animals draws a crowd, it's also drawn opposition.

Critics say the tanks that house the seals are too small and need major remodeling.

"We've gotten inspections and there's been some, you know over the past there's been some little things that needed to be fixed or improved," said Alcorn.

He says they've done just that; however, the city's latest request will require a deeper look.

"We do have somebody who we're working with right now to draw up a proposal that we feel would be something we could afford to do," said Alcorn.

KSBY spoke with the Morro Bay mayor and a few city council members today who say they support the aquarium staying but acknowledge the need for upgrades.

The council will hear from the community on what it wants the site to become at its meeting on June 25th.

According to the city, the aquarium attracts more than 200,000 visitors every year.

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