Sunday, June 21, 2009

NOT-FOR-PROFIT AQUARIUM MAKES BETTER SENSE FOR CLEVELAND

The below letter was well articulated as to why supporting a non-profit public aquarium serves Cleveland and the region--ant its future in a superior way--in contrast to a for profit aquarium---as was the proposal for the Power House. I have withheld the author's name, but he has many years experience working in the professional public aquarium profession.



I’d like to clear a few things up since there has been tremendous support of our project to bring an aquarium back to Cleveland. As most everyone in the area has heard, there was an announcement made by the Jacob’s Investment Group, that an aquarium is proposed in their powerhouse building on the west bank of the flats. First and foremost is that this proposed Jacob’s aquarium is in no way, shape, or form affiliated with the Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. The most striking difference between these two projects is that the proposed Jacob’s aquarium project is a private, for-profit aquarium and The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. is a public, non-profit aquarium dedicated solely as a cultural resource for the city of Cleveland.

We initially approached the Jacob’s Investment Group, among other local development groups, with the possibility of hosting the new Cleveland Aquarium and there were some continuing discussions. Recently, however, they developed their own proposal. There were some discussions on collaborations between the two parties, however upon further examination of their proposal, we believe that it is too limited in size and scope to be successful and we feel that the location is less than ideal. I hope to summarize the benefits of our project as well as detail more of the differences which I hope you will agree makes The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. a much better project for the City of Cleveland and its residents.

Let me start by saying that new Cleveland Aquarium project has a very rich history here in Cleveland. Some of our supporters and trustees were employees of the fondly remembered original Cleveland Aquarium, which was located in Gordon Park and closed in 1985. Furthermore, many of the trustees are currently employed at its current “temporary” location at The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Combined with the long history of the original Cleveland Aquarium, the legacy of the new Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. is taking into account the future generations of Cleveland families. For more information on the history of The Cleveland Aquarium and its significant contributions to other public aquariums and the aquarium hobby worldwide, I encourage you to visit our website at www.clevelandaquarium.org.

The trustees of the new Cleveland Aquarium, Inc, have been working to bring a public aquarium back to Cleveland for a number of years. This project has literally thousands of hours from volunteers from the community in acquiring equipment and supplies from both defunct and remodeled aquarium projects including the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Columbus Zoo, the Fortworth Aquarium in Texas and most notably a large selection of tanks and equipment acquired from the former SeaWorld of Ohio. All of this valuable equipment is currently being stored in warehouses in Cleveland and its surrounding areas awaiting our soon coming announcement of this grand project.

The trustees of the new Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. are dedicated in making this project an iconic cultural institution for Cleveland, not a roadside attraction, which is intended to work in synergy with other local institutions such as the Rock Hall, The Natural History Museum, The Botanical Gardens, The Cleveland Playhouse, The Cleveland Art Museum, The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, etc in continuing the educational and intellectual groupings of museums and attractions that Cleveland is well known for. The non-profit Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. will include much more than fish tanks, it is intended to be a leader in all areas aquatic including research, conservation, education, and contribute significantly to aquatic veterinary advancements and aquatic animal husbandry issues. Furthermore, it is intended to work closely with the large aquarium hobbyist community that is prevalent in Northern Ohio.

The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. believes that a non-profit institution ensures that the aquarium will not be profit driven, instead proceeds go to valuable programs in the areas of scientific studies, outreach, saving endangered animals, educational programming, etc. Typically, these non-revenue generating programs cut into the bottom line profits of for-profit institutions, whose sole goal is to make money for its investors and as a result are often limited in the scope of what they can do. The trustees of the Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. believe that the goal of a non-profit institution is to educate, conserve, and learn. Our project does not intend to pay rent, have to return investments, or repay debt. It will be primarily financed by philanthropy and grants. The money saved can therefore be spent on the above described programs creating a greater impact in aquatic animal science and education. Additionally, non-profit institutions are also eligible for a wider variety of research and educational grants than for-profit institutions.

The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. will be a medium sized institution of about 100,000 to 125,000 square feet, similar in size to institutions such as The New England Aquarium, The Newport Aquarium and the original phase of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The non profit model of the project is intended to to be an economic engine for the city of Cleveland, by keeping the economic impact in the Cleveland community and not to funnel money out of the area since a significant part of the proceeds are to be spent locally. One important aspect of the project is that the exhibits will not be “shoehorned” into a building not designed for an aquarium. This model has proven unsuccessful in several instances since corrosion and weight issues are vital considerations in a properly designed facility. The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. will have many habitats exhibiting a wide variety of freshwater and marine fish, as well as aquatic mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

The Cleveland Aquarium, Inc. is not only about an aquarium, but a catalyst for downtown development. It is about creating a lively and attractive place where people in all stages of life and diversity can come to dine, shop, and spend quality time, all the while allowing them to learn and grow in important aquatic related issues. We are committed to the rejuvenation and growth of the Downtown area, and view the Aquarium as a stimulus for a great deal of needed development. To accomplish this goal, we are in collaboration with the world's leading aquarium architect, Peter Chermayeff , who led the modern aquarium renaissance in 1969 with The New England Aquarium in Boston, and has to date designed many of the world’s leading aquarium institutions including the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Tennessee Aquarium, the Lisbon Aquarium in Portugal, the Osaka Aquarium in Japan, and the Genoa Aquarium in Italy. Current projects include an aquarium Alexandria, Egypt and also one in Triast, Italy.

We sincerely hope that you continue to agree with our vision of a truly world class aquarium and will continue to support this project in any way you can. Please stay tuned for a pending announcement and ways you can help.


Author Name withheld until further notice

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