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New Morro Bay aquarium would cost millions, study says

Posted at 6:36 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 22:29:50-04

It was once called the worst aquarium in America by Vice News, now the tides are changing in favor of building a new aquarium in Morro Bay that would have something for everyone.

The doors are locked and the windows are mostly covered at the old Morro Bay Aquarium.

“It’s a wonderful little place. We went there for (his 50th) birthday. It was quaint. It was cute,” said Christi Coker, a tourist from Costa Mesa.

But not everyone felt that way.

“I went there when I was younger and I recently just went and I realized it was kind of small and really outdated to be honest,” said Cambria resident Kailey Knowles.

Now the city has a chance to possibly bring the aquarium back from the depths, using information from a new feasibility study that shows how much money it would take.

“Reasonably, we are looking for minimum of a $5 million redevelopment fund up to $10 million, which would include some operational funds that would be held to ensure the new Morro Bay Aquarium would be successful to stay open,” explained Christine Johnson, Executive Director of the Central Coast Aquarium.

The Central Coast Aquarium and Cal Poly are hoping to get the go-ahead Tuesday from the City of Morro Bay to spend a year exploring ways to fund opening a new Morro Bay Aquarium, but the feasibility study shows aquariums often need other sources of funding to then stay open.

“The feasibility study does make that clear that it’s not just in our region, that all aquariums and many other zoos and educational organizations do need extra help from philanthropy, ongoing fundraising to meet their bottom line,” Johnson said.

While the current location of the aquarium is favorable to hosting marine education, the building itself may be too much in disrepair, leaving the Central Coast Aquarium, Cal Poly and the city to potentially start from the ground up.

“It’s not possible for us to re-use any of the material or the site as it was so it does require an entire demolition and rebuild from the ground up including some dock space on the front,” Johnson said.

If you’d like to weigh in on this topic, the city council will be discussing this Tuesday in their meeting that starts at 5:30 p.m.