At a recent meeting of the Jennette’s Pier Advisory Board, Aquarium Division Director David Griffin offered an update regarding funding for this project. Although our state is currently without a budget, it certainly appears by all accounts that the “Aquarium Satellite Areas Funding” will not face a serious threat of elimination.
At press time for the Citivas Review a number of aspects were on hold pending additional funds to be made available.
According to Griffin, the additional funding is now available. The Aquariums will be directing all of a surprise $1.5 million surplus to the project. The surplus resulted from an overpayment on debt last year and better-than-expected visitation at the three state aquariums so far this year.
First priority will be to pay the $500,000 remainder of the project architect’s design fee as well as $300,000 for additional “testing” fees. Approximately $200,000 will go towards “green” features including $80,000 for solar panels and $90,000 for a rain water collection system. Up to $500,000 will be spent on the bathhouse, including a Coastal Area Management Act grant of $130,000.
Private funding is still needed for three wind turbines, additional solar panels and a hydrogen fuel cell. However, construction will continue to proceed as if those items remain included.
Educational components are now on hold (imagine that, an educational pier without educational displays) pending a $301,000 grant application to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Recreational Fund. Approximately $279,000 would be spent on displays, including aquarium life support tanks, $70,000 on graphics and an additional $8,000 on education support equipment.
The waste water treatment plant, located across the street from the pier, has been awarded a $500,000 grant by the N.C. Rural Center. These grants are intended to boost economically challenged regions by improving infrastructure. However, Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Secretary Dee Freeman is now questioning whether the State should be using this money. Griffin points out that the money will be obtained through the Town of Nags Head rather than directly by the State.
The N.C. Aquarium Society will soon begin their campaign to raise $1 million for the project according to their Executive Director, Mark Joyner. Focus will be on adding educational components as well as the things “the State has a harder time dealing with” including the wind turbines and other green amenities. Sponsorships of varying levels will be available throughout the pier complex including everything from pier decking and benches to the indoor displays.
Additionally, according to Griffin’s source at the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research office, had House Bill 628 (which was signed into law April 14th, 2009), been delayed just a few days it would likely not have passed, as the reality of our current budget situation was realized soon thereafter.
Despite budget dilemmas and spending cuts across the North Carolina, there will be a brand new pier in Dare County by 2011.
For continuing updates please visit www.civitasreview.com and search “the pier”.