Lehigh Valley

Funding re-examined after Da Vinci pulls aquarium

EASTON, Pa. - “I guess we had to arm twist a little bit, but we are talking about $20 million from the state. That is a lot of money but we have the authority to do that,” said Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola.

She and fellow legislators Pat Brown and Mario Scavello told the Da Vinci Science Center the $20 million promised by the state would be pulled if an aquarium was part of their plan.

“If Ripley goes ahead it doesn't make sense to have two aquariums,” she said. 

The second aquarium is a proposal by Ripley's. The private-money project would be built next to Kalahari Resorts in Tobyhanna Township.

Earlier this week Da Vinci changed its $130 million project by scraping its aquarium part of its Science City for a bio dome.

“Nothing like it on the East Coast, which we do have aquariums on the East Coast. This is something unique. I think it would work really well and I think there's a lot of excitement about it,” Boscola said. 

However, not everyone is feeling that enthusiasm.

With the change in plans, some members of Northampton County Council want to re-examine a $10 million, 40-year pledge that was made to the project in December. 

Lin Erickson of Da Vinci plans on addressing council Thursday night. After working with the past council for a year she wants to make sure new members understand the project's impact both financially and culturally. She says they’re committed to raising the funds with or without the county’s pledge but support would go a long way in wooing other donors.

Erickson said there is nothing like their bio dome in the U.S., the closet being in Montreal. She said they want something to set them apart from anything else in the region. 

Council is expected to discuss the funding next month. 

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