Improvements Will Help Tourism

It's just a matter of time now before the J. L. Scott Marine Education Center gets a facelift that will dramatically highlight the excellence of their programs and continue to compliment the seafood museum's improvements on Point Cadet as well.

Dr. Sharon Walker is the director at the education center and says, "Right now this building is only about 34,000 square feet and we're hoping to take it to about 175,000 or 180,000 square feet.

Dr. Walker says they hope to increase the number of tourists they get with an expansion they hope will include an IMAX theater, a new and much bigger 350,000 gallon aquarium, even more exhibits and continued educational programs that are already a model for the rest of the country.

She says, "We feel like we need to do more in terms of tourist attraction and family and conventioneer destinations to compliment some of the other types of economies we have on the coast right now."

While the plans for the future are grand, it's still business as usual at the education center. More new exhibits are on the way including a large wave tank, shore bird exhibit, and the Navy is providing an oceanography exhibit.

Dr. Walker says, "We still have all of our usual programs and we're doing a lot to renovate and actually enhance those programs, and we also are having more evening programs for the community and families."

An expansion will help the center to build on the programs they offer the public now, as well as, help diversify the coast's economy. She says, "The Market study has shown that if we are able to expand like we hope we can see a million people here a year rather than our hundred thousand, and I think that's good for the economy, it's good for education and it's good for the environment."

Dr. Walker says that the expansion will take up to five years and it will take private donations along with matching money from the city, county and state to get it built.