Tank Brouhaha

Posted on Fri, Sep. 27, 2002 Duluth News Tribune
Aquarium becomes topic for campaign

The Great Lakes Aquarium should receive no more subsidies and those who pushed the project should instead pony up to save the attraction, state Rep. Dale Swapinski said Thursday.

"I don't believe the citizens of my legislative district should be asked to bail out this sinking aquarium," Swapinski said at a news conference in front of the struggling freshwater attraction. "Let's politely ask the monied people who insisted we build it to fill the tanks with their money."

Swapinski, of the Independence Party, faces state Rep. Mike Jaros, a Democrat, and Marcia Hales, a Republican, for the newly formed legislative district 7B.

Swapinski criticized Hales and Jaros for supporting the project in the late 1990s.

"I believed then, and I believe now, that the money we wasted in 1998 to build this facility was sheer folly," Swapinski said.

Bashing the aquarium isn't germane to the election, said Hales, who was on the City Council when the project was approved.

"I am delaying comment until I can weigh his accusations against the truth," she said.

Jaros could not be reached for comment.

The 2-year-old aquarium is well below revenue projections for the year, and the city is preparing a $100,000 loan to keep the attraction from running out of cash this fall.

Mayor Gary Doty appointed a task force to make recommendations to keep the attraction viable. The report is due before the end of the year.

The Aquarium circa 2000 when, apparently, there was more harmony regarding it, at least as far as political advertising went.