Riverquarium finish line finally in sight - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riverquarium finish line finally in sight

July 15, 2004

Albany-- Construction stopped two months before the scheduled opening, but Thursday Governor Sonny Perdue promised the $1.4 million needed to complete Albany's Riverquarium.

But he had a lot of questions before agreeing to pay for the project. One big question, why the project is nearly two million bucks over budget.

Governor Perdue greeted Albany children waiting for the popular play fountain next to the Riverquarium to turn on.  "Turn the sprinklers on... turn the sprinklers on..." they chanted.

At his command, the water began flowing in a matter of minutes. That wasn't the only thing. "I am happy to announce today that I am convinced this project ought to be completed, and I plan to reccommend to the board of DNR and GRSIC that the $1.4 million in bond funding be released."

After a private tour of the Riveraquarium, Governor Perdue threw his support behind the project. But before that happened, the Governor asked some questions.  "Well certainly most of them were related to the fact-- why did you need a million nine more than what was budgeted for you, and of course that is a question that deserved to be asked and deserved an adequate and appropriate factual response."

The answer can be found in what's known as the Warehouse, home to the I-Werks Theater and the Adventure Center. Structural problems with the old building forced it to be torn down and rebuilt.  "That was not in our original plans nor in our original budget, and that had a seven figure impact on the project," said ATI President Tommy Chatmon.

Governor Perdue was obviously satisfied with the answers given, approving the money. But the Governor made it clear he was not pressured by anyone to support the project, including Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, who visited the Riverquarium Wednesday. "Lt. Govenor Taylor and I have not a conversation about this building. I am not under any pressure, this is not a political decision, this was a business decision about the way the New Georgia is going to be run."

It was a brief visit, but the Governor made quite an impression, on both the old and young. The $550,000 still needed will be provided by Albany Tomorrow and the Flint River Center Partners.

Work on the Riverquarium is expected to begin a week from Monday.

posted at 3:40PM by dave.miller@walb.com