Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium
WWJ Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
Hosted by Vicki Thomas
October 12, 2005
Listen To WWJ Aquarium segment -
" What are the mayoral
candidates intentions with regard to the Belle Isle Aquarium?"
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick claims:
Aquarium was not compliant with regulations for handicapped access.
Response: The ADA compliancy issues are actually
remarkably easy to remedy and are far less difficult than the ADA
compliancy issues relating to the Royal Oak Zoo facility, which also
must be remedied.
FOBIA has found the resources necessary to tackle this problem.
The Roof needs
fixing and will be prohibitively expensive to fix
Response: There are
significant looming capital costs associated with the building. The
reason for this is an appalling lack of support by the Zoo
administration in the past decade. The roofing problem does exist, and
has existed for at least ten years. A complete re-roofing will need to
be done in the near future, at an estimated cost of $250,000. (FOBIA
had an estimate done.) This year, the zoo allocated $2,000 to repair
roof leaks. Hardly the kind of support a major historical facility
should be receiving.
costs $800,000.00 a year to run and only brings in $180,000,00
Actually, the Aquarium costs $530,000.00 to operate and last year
brought in $138,000.00
That means it operates at $393,000.00
Furthermore, like the Zoo, it is a historical city institution for the
enjoyment of the public and not a profit-making venture. The Royal Oak
Zoo does not make a profit for the City of Detroit either, and in this
case there is not even the spin-off to local Detroit restaurants and
We must move
forward and build a new Aquarium.
In 1989 there were 17 'Super-aquariums' in the United States.
This figure has since doubled to 36
aquariums. There are twenty more being constructed.
You have to consider the law of diminishing returns. Tourists are not
likely to be jetting into Detroit exclusively to see the aquarium.
Consequently, The burden of maintenance will fall upon the Detroit tax
payer, to the tune of $20,000,000 a year.
Few Detroit families will be able to afford the $20.00 per person
admission fee that will be necessary to keep the aquarium solvent.
Did you know that only two aquariums actually break even? The rest
have to be subsidized. Kagan's impact study is based on one of the two
aquariums that are not subsidized.
In contrast, the cost of maintaining the Belle Isle Aquarium is a mere
fraction of these larger, newer aquariums and is easily within the
budget margins of Detroit's shrinking population and tax-base.
It seems unlikely that a new super-aquarium would be built in Detroit
anyway. Zoo director Ron Kagan's actions are synonymous with someone
who is following the money: Close down the Detroit-based institutions
that are affiliated with the Royal Oak Zoo ( Belle Isle Zoo, Belle
Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Deer ) and court the more Detroit's
elaborately more affluent neighbor,
The Royal Oak Zoo employees are quietly being transferred from the
City of Detroit to the Zoological Society, making the transfer of the
Zoo that much easier.
- Go to
Freman Hendrix interview
- See Also