Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Madeira Beach to aid aquarium's move by backing loan

MADEIRA BEACH — City officials appear poised to guarantee a $2.5 million, one-year bridge construction loan for the planned Secrets of the Sea Marine Exploration Center and Aquarium at John's Pass Village.

Related News/Archive

Tuesday, the City Commission told City Manager Shane Crawford to continue negotiating the loan terms with aquarium and Bank of Tampa officials.

"I think it would be a thumbs up at this stage," Mayor Travis Palladeno said after Crawford explained how the loan guarantee would work.

According to Crawford, the city would not actually have to spend any of its money and would be protected against default during the yearlong period.

"There is a little bit of risk, but it is almost risk-free," Crawford said.

The loan payments would be made by the aquarium from escrowed money already raised through a variety of donations.

At the end of the year, the city's participation in the aquarium loan would expire.

Crawford said before he would ask the commission for final approval, an outside third party will verify the aquarium's financial status.

A decision is needed in June, according to Crawford, so that the aquarium can stay on schedule for an early spring 2013 opening.

The short-term loan is needed to allow construction to begin this summer to convert space in the John's Pass garage building for the aquarium's use.

The aquarium, now at the Pier in St. Petersburg, plans to take over 12,500 square feet of space on two levels of the garage, adjacent to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Hooters.

The attraction will include 40 marine-related exhibits illustrating information about the sea and the creatures that live within it.

Much of the technology behind the exhibits is being developed by the St. Petersburg Ocean Team, a consortium of university programs, environmental organizations, researchers, businesses, and national, state and government agencies that are focused on marine science.

The planned exhibits include aquariums, touch screens, interactive activities and a 5-foot wide globe with satellite data showing weather patterns in the Atlantic Ocean and fish migration in the Pacific Ocean.

An underwater microphone will transmit sounds of dolphins swimming through John's Pass.

About 250,000 people are expected to visit the aquarium each year, generating $8 million in economic impact for Madeira Beach and the surrounding community, according to aquarium president and CEO Howard Rutherford.

Rutherford confirmed Friday that the organization has enough money on hand to cover the first year's $84,000 in loan payments and is "in conversations'' with a donor who has indicated an interest in guaranteeing the construction loan after the city's year is completed.

Donors have already pledged $2 million toward the aquarium's $5 million fundraising goal. The money will be used to help pay for construction and remodeling and provide cash flow until the aquarium is fully operating.

Madeira Beach to aid aquarium's move by backing loan 05/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, May 28, 2012 11:48am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Told not to look, Donald Trump looks at the solar eclipse


    Of course he looked.

    Monday's solar eclipse — life-giving, eye-threatening, ostensibly apolitical — summoned the nation's First Viewer to the Truman Balcony of the White House around 2:38 p.m. Eastern time.

    The executive metaphor came quickly.

    President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump view the solar eclipse from the Truman balcony of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2017. [Al Drago | New York Times]
  2. Secret Service says it will run out of money to protect Trump and his family Sept. 30


    WASHINGTON — The Secret Service said Monday that it has enough money to cover the cost of protecting President Donald Trump and his family through the end of September, but after that the agency will hit a federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime unless Congress intervenes.

    Secret service agents walk with President Donald Trump after a ceremony to welcome the 2016 NCAA Football National Champions the Clemson Tigers on the South Lawn of the White House on June 12, 2017. [Olivier Douliery | Sipa USA via TNS]
  3. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  4. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge


    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    His attorney said Jason Jerome Springer, 39, just talked, and there was “no true threat.”

  5. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments


    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.