Legislature Purchases Land for Aquarium Despite Resistance County Legislature Approves $1.7 Million Land Purchase for Aquarium

4.7-Acre Plot at Inner Harbor Goes for $1.7 Million

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Onondaga County’s controversial aquarium project continued on its path toward construction today, cementing a plot of land at the Inner Harbor.

The County Legislature voted 9-8 at a meeting today to approve the purchase of the 4.7-acre lot from Cor Development for $1.713 million.

The site sits at 439 and 451 Solar St., where the aquarium project could break ground as soon as October.


Birds-eye view design plan
This drawing shows the proposed design of the aquarium Syracuse Inner Harbor. The county purchased the entire vacant site today. (QPK Design)
© 2022 QPK Design

County Legislature Republicans, including Executive Ryan McMahon continue to push the project forward. Legislator Deb Cody wrote in the meeting agenda that the price for the property was “fair and reasonable.”

Despite the continuing approval, some local residents have resisted the project.

Members of the CNY Solidarity Coalition attended the legislature meeting to voice their disapproval.

“The numbers that they’re expecting for this aquarium, it seems unreasonable,” Coordinating Committee Member Elaine Denton said. “Our zoo doesn’t get that attendance.”

Denton believes the county is misrepresenting the potential impact of the aquarium on the economy and Inner Harbor development.

“The taxpayers won’t get their money back within 100 years,” Denton said. “It’s just mind boggling that they’re pushing for with this when the numbers don’t make sense.”

Denton and resident Derek English believe there are other ways for the County to spend the $85 million allocated for the aquarium.

“Poverty is such a huge issue,” English said. “We have crumbling infrastructure, our water pipes are broken, our streets are not in great shape. We have thousands of residents who are unable to find work, who can’t access benefits, who are experiencing food shortages and housing shortages. I just don’t think it’s a proper use of funds at this current time.”


Syracuse Inner Harbor
Destiny USA sits in the distance beyond the Syracuse Inner Harbor.
© 2023 Karl Winter

English and Denton pointed to nearby Destiny USA as an example of local politicians’ grandiose plans going awry.

“Just look right down the road from where they’re proposing the aquarium — Destiny all the numbers seems inflated,” Denton said. “The promises that were promised really haven’t come to fruition.”

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