Riverquarium's future remains in limbo - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Riverquarium's future remains in limbo

July 3, 2007

Albany--The fate of the Albany Riverquarium still hangs in the balance. City Commissioners won't commit to giving the facility the money it needs to remain open.  The Riverquarium says it will close within 30 days unless the city gives them $600 thousand dollars.

As the Riverquarium struggles to survive, Albany city leaders struggle to come to its rescue. Yet one thing is clear.

"There is no doubt that we want to support the Riverquarium.  I think there's going to be some effort to assist them," says Mayor Willie Adams.

Until the city examines the Riverquarium's spending, Mayor Adams isn't sure how much money the city can afford to give to the downtown attraction.

"They're looking at the Riverquarium's books and whether or not business is being done properly," says Adams.

"We're taking a close look at the financial records and will do a financial analysis of the operating situation that exists at the Riverquarium," says Alfred Lott.

City Manager Alfred Lott is also looking at other possibilities that would help attract more people to the Riverquarium.

"We're looking for a way or ways that the Riverquarium can provide services to the city in the form of recreational services," says Lott.

City Commissioner Tommy Postell says the city will likely have to dip into its reserves to come to the Riverquarium's rescue.

"I think it would have to be a reserve action taken, if it's legal.  The reserve is there with approximately 11 million dollars available," says Postell.

Dougherty County commissioners won't commit any money before September when they can look at the tax digest.

The mayor says if the city pitches in to save the Riverquarium, so should the county.

"It would look awkward if the city came to the rescue and the county did not come to the table," says Adams.

And he remains positive that the city will do everything it can to make sure the doors to the Riverquarium stay open for good.

"It certainly makes good business sense. If you got $30 million already invested, we cannot afford to not come to the table," says Adams.

Otherwise, that 30 million already spent on the Riverquarium will go down the drain.

In two weeks, city manager Alfred Lott hopes to have a better idea of just how much the city will be able to afford to give the Riverquarium. Since its shortfall, the Riverquarium has already had to eliminate positions and reduce programs.