The $14.5 million expansion to be completed in 1st quarter of 2014 will allow Aquarium to accomodate another 250,000 visitors a year. (Clearwater Marine Aquarium)
CLEARWATER, Florida - As the sun set Tuesday, supporters of a new Clearwater Marine Aquarium worked to drum last minute votes.
"The animals deserve a permanent home. Right now, they're in a temporary home. They're in a sewage plant," said one supporter.
All their efforts seemed to work. Supporters celebrated as residents approved the referendum allowing the Aquarium to lease the property where City Hall sits now.
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"It opens up so many different doors of opportunity for us," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos. "With the Capital Theater, with the aquarium, we will be able to revitalize downtown Clearwater, and bring the story of Winter to thousands of people."
Brian Aungst, Jr., the son of Clearwater's former mayor, serves on the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Foundation. "This is the most significant electoral victory in the history of the city of Clearwater if the aquarium can fulfill the vision that it's set forth to the voters," said Aungst.
It will next be up to the aquarium to finalize a plan it can pay for, or the land goes back to the city and the deal is off.
Beau Zimmer, 10 News