The Oregon State Legislature is set to approve Senate Bill 5534, which will allocate $5 million from the state’s lottery bonds to support Phase II of the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s (OCAq) five-year capital campaign. State Representative David Gomberg, who serves as a Co-Vice Chair on the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, acted as an advocate for the Aquarium. His recognition of the Aquarium’s role as an economic driver in Oregon’s $12 billion tourism industry was key in the legislative process, making this appropriation possible.
“I have been working to secure these dollars from the first day the legislature convened, and here we are on the very last day to vote on actually committing these dollars,” stated Gomberg. “The Aquarium has a compelling case to make. It’s a critical part of our coastal persona and it’s an integral part of Oregon’s tourism industry. And it’s a darn fun place to visit.”
The Aquarium intends to use the appropriation to modify its three indoor galleries. Improvements include modifications to improve traffic flow, exhibit upgrades, new signage and interpretive materials, and an expanded touch pool to provide guests with greater access to hands-on experiences. These funds will also support the installation of new exhibits, including a live coral exhibit and a sea jelly gallery.
“We are honored to receive this appropriation from the State of Oregon,” stated Carrie Lewis, President and CEO of OCAq. “With this incredible support, we are able to fulfill our dreams of renovating our exhibits to expand our mission of creating a place that highlights our beautiful Oregon coast and inspires ocean conservation. The support of the State Legislature is a testament to the important work we do and the impact we have on Oregonians and our visitors from across the globe. We would like to thank Representative David Gomberg, the Coastal Caucus and the State legislators that have been and continue to be our champions.”
The 2019 State Legislature approved a $5 million appropriation for the Aquarium’s capital construction projects, and the Aquarium began construction in January 2020. However, the State appropriation was rescinded during the Coronavirus-19 health crisis due to a lack of lottery bond revenue. The allocated $5 million from the state’s lottery bonds provides the Aquarium with half of the funds needed to move forward with Phase II. The Aquarium invites its supporters to help raise the remaining funds by donating via givetoaquarium.org.