TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon which would remove regulatory stumbling blocks to allow for the construction of an aquarium in the Xanadu complex at the Meadowlands was unanimously approved by the Senate Economic Growth Committee today.
“Allowing the developers of Xanadu to include an aquarium in their planning introduces an educational element to the facility,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen. “Aquariums are a fantastic opportunity for both children and adults to come face to face with some of the treasures of our planet’s oceans. A world-class aquarium at the heart of Xanadu would enhance the development’s regional profile and draw in visitors from around the New York City metropolitan area.”
The bill, S-1972, would remove a provision under current law prohibiting the construction of an aquarium at the Meadowlands. Under the bill, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) would be granted authority to enter into any private contracts or legal agreements to facilitate the construction of an aquarium on the Meadowlands site. The NJSEA has already received a proposal for a privately-financed aquarium at the Xanadu retail and entertainment complex, to be built without any public funding by Cumming Corp., the same developer working on the Xanadu project.
Senator Gordon noted that the original exception for an aquarium at the Meadowlands was intended to give the Adventure Aquarium in Camden a level of regional exclusivity, to ensure that the facility would attract visitors to the Camden waterfront. However, Senator Gordon argued that the distance between Camden and the Meadowlands is sufficient to support two facilities, and that the carve-out is contrary to the tenets of healthy competition.
“The Adventure Aquarium is one of the great success stories in New Jersey’s efforts to bring Camden back from the brink of fiscal collapse,” said Senator Gordon. “But I think that the current law prohibiting an aquarium in the Meadowlands is unnecessary, as the Meadowlands aquarium would draw in an entirely different visitor-base. New Jersey is big enough to support two top-notch aquariums, and we want to give the residents of North Jersey a taste of undersea adventure in their own backyard.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.