Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Aquarium of Niagara will see capital improvements for the first time in decades thanks to a large gift from The New York Power Authority.
The aquarium was awarded $1.75 million by the Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board last week, a move that received final approval from NYPA’s board of trustees on Tuesday, to fund the first phase of a six step, multi-year capital project that has been in the works for years.
Gay Molnar, the executive director, said she is excited to hear that the first major improvements since the aquarium opened would be funded.
“This is the first time in over 48 years that we’ve received a substantial grant like the one we’ve received from NYPA,” she said.
The first phase of the project will involve a new exhibit for the aquarium’s penguins.
Molnar said she is waiting to hear back from state officials with more information.
“There will be more details to follow,” she said.
State Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, sponsored legislation passed in 2010 that established the power proceeds board.
Prior to that legislation excess power generated by the Niagara Power Project was sold on the open market by NYPA and the proceeds were deposited in the agency’s general fund.
The legislation states that the money from the additional power sold must be spent on projects within a 30 mile radius of the power project in Lewiston.
Maziarz said projects funded by the power proceeds can help to turn the area’s economy around.
“Now it needs to be spent here,” Maziarz said of the funds.
Maziarz said that while the power proceeds projects often involve a job training component, the aquarium project is important for the Falls where tourists are seeking more attractions.
“Everywhere you go people say you need things to do in Niagara Falls,” he said. “This is going to rebuild the aquarium.”