Riverquarium grinds to a halt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riverquarium grinds to a halt

July 7, 2004

Albany- In May, Governor Sonny Perdue deferred $1.4-million dollars for the Flint Riverquarium.

Now, less than two months before the scheduled opening, the project apparently is out of money. Wednesday afternoon, the general contractor sent workers home because Albany Tomorrow Incorporated can't pay the bills.

"Albany don't get ready for Labor Day," said contractor Don Dent, loading large equipment into a truck. "I don't think it's going to happen."

It doesn't get much clearer than that. The workers are the ones we were counting on to have the Flint Riverquarium and Adventure Center finished for the Sept. 3 opening.

Now they're loading up and going home.

"And they said for everybody to get their equipment out of the building, so that's what we're doing," said contractor Jessie Mathis.

"You've got to be finished," said Julius Dowell, who works for a painting contractor. "You've got to be out of here by tomorrow because they don't have enough money to finish the project, to pay for the project."

It would have taken these workers and all their equipment several weeks to finish the job they were being paid to do. But now they're on to other work.

"It's going to be all right though," said another worker loading equipment outside the Adventure Center. "We're gonna have another job."

But all of them may not be that lucky.

"Today, we turned our invoices in to get paid and I don't know right at this point, when we're going to get it," Mathis said.

Officials with the general contractor on the job say the workers will be back as soon as more money is in the bank. But until then, the job ahead of them is getting their tools out of here.

"Because they're going to put a lock on the building tomorrow that's whey they told everybody to clear out," Mathis said.

Clear out until state and local politics clears the way for completion.

A spokesperson in the Governor's office says Governor Perdue questioned why ATI needed extra money and whether the Riverquarium could become self-sufficient. ATI says the $1.4-million is needed to meet inflationary construction costs.

The governor may come to Albany next week to meet with ATI and local leaders.

posted at 10:46 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com