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Letter states Grand Rapids aquarium in "early stages of planning"

City of Grand Rapids

In a letter sent to the Kent County Board of Commissioners, Grand Rapids city leaders say plans for an aquarium are in the works, but how would the project be funded?

The letter, dated March 28th of this year, is signed by Grand Rapids Mayor Roslynn Bliss, President & CEO of Experience Grand Rapids Doug Small, Grand Action 2.0 Executive Director Kara Wood, and five other city leaders.

The letter asks the Kent County Commission to allow voters to consider an increase in the Lodging Excise Tax from 5 to 8%. It details how the city has worked with the community to bring the forthcoming soccer stadium and Acrisure Amphitheater to fruition, and goes on to say, “The community is also in the early stages of planning for a nationally significant aquarium.” Funding for the project could come in part from this tax.

Talk of an aquarium in Grand Rapids goes back to 2021, when John Ball Zoo said it was exploring the possibility of building one within 5 to 10 years. In October of that year, the zoo said it was conducting a feasibility study to determine if it made more sense to build the aquarium in Muskegon of Grand Rapids.

The Kent County Board of Commissioners is set to vote on Thursday whether to put the issue before the voters in the August 6th primary.

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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