Point Cadet Aquarium Could Get Extreme Makeover

The days of crowding around the touch tank -- or watching fish swim in a small, rather dark aquarium could be over. J.L. Scott has bright, new expansion plans.

Dr. Sharon Walker is director of the Scott aquarium. "I think it's going to be a dream that all of us can work toward making happen," she said.

Dr. Walker has seen all sorts of proposals to remodel the marine education center. But none of them have ever been implemented. Next week, a new set of designs will be unveiled.

"This is the first floor," she said, pointing to one of three sketches of the 78,400 square foot proposal.

"And this building is actually going to open to the south."

Which means the front entrance will face the water rather than Highway 90. And much of the brick facade will be replaced by glass.

"I think what makes this plan different from the other plans is it has buy in from the city, the Institutions of Higher Learning, the Secretary of State's office, and from USM." the director said.

Those are the four agencies that control Point Cadet, and therefore control this aquarium. In August 2002, they set up a committee specifically to find the best way to utilize this facility.

The master plan they just approved uses $60 million to more than double the size of this aquarium.

Dr. Walker said there's only one problem.

"We don't have any money. But we're all going to be working together to get those monies."

Dr. Walker thought it would take at least two years for the Point Cadet committee to get its hands on that money, and begin the J.L. Scott expansion.

If you'd like to hear more about the aquarium expansion, go to the J.L. Scott Aquarium on Thursday May 27. A public hearing on the proposal begins at 6:30 pm.