Clearwater residents to vote on aquarium referendum - WFLA News Channel 8

Clearwater residents to vote on aquarium referendum

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Concept art for proposed new aquarium Concept art for proposed new aquarium
The current city hall property The current city hall property
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

Clearwater voters will decide if Winter the dolphin can move in to City Hall.

On Tuesday, voters must approve a referendum that creates a special exemption to the City Charter, to allow the city of Clearwater to lease city land to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  That would enable the building of a 250,000 square foot facility for exhibits, animal hospital, and theaters.

Related content: Clearwater voters consider aquarium referendum

Bob Clifford is with the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, and believes an aquarium downtown could only be a positive for the city, and for the economy.

"One of our biggest points is we are in a tourist community," said Clifford.  "We have a huge number of people who visit the area on a regular basis and this would be a tremendous enhancement for us ."

A group called Friends of Clearwater opposes using city land for a private, non-profit organization such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  They fear an aquarium downtown will create traffic problems, and what if it can't meet its financial expectations?  They wonder if Taxpayers will foot the bill.

"So as a a voter I'm being asked to give up the use of this land...allow the city to make a lease?" questioned Joe Corvino with Friends of Clearwater.  "And there is no vetting on the part of the city as to whether this is a good project or a bad project."

Related content:  Group opposes Clearwater aquarium expansion

If the referendum passes, the aquarium would still need to raise the estimated $160 million, before it could demolish the current city hall and break ground for the new facility.

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