Council prepares ballot for Aquarium expansion
The City of Clearwater gave the Clearwater Marine Aquarium its current facility on Island Estates. Now, CMA wants to build a $160 million facility on the downtown waterfront property currently occupied by city hall.
It is negotiating up to a 60-year lease, and this time, it is not a “sweetheart” deal.
“We’re still negotiating, but I’m fairly confident that we’re at least going to get 50 cents per ticket to help us build a new city hall,” Mayor George Cretekos said. A new city hall will cost an estimated $7.5 million. The project also includes a new parking garage at an estimated cost of $7.6 million. Cretekos said that expense is also part of the negotiations.
Monday, the Clearwater City Council put the final touches on ballot language for a November referendum. Voters have to approve the use of city waterfront property for a non-public use. Final action on the ballot language could come Thursday.
In the meantime, work has started on a much more complicated document.
A “memorandum of understanding” will detail many of the finer points of any eventual lease between the city and CMA. Cretekos expected that document to be ready in plenty of time for voters to consider.