Seattle’s shark zoo plan is missing another conservation mark: prudent use of our tax dollars.
The waterfront-project budget, developed in 2011, largely ignores inflating construction costs. One need only look next door, where the original plan called for the reconstruction of both Piers 62 and 63 for $45 million (remember Summer Nights at the Pier?). In late 2018, we were informed that due to a shortage of funds, Pier 63 could not be rebuilt.
The plan’s Overlook Walk has the stated purpose of delivering people from Pike Place Market to the waterfront but is also the structure that will house the new shark tank. Its design complexity makes it significantly more challenging to deliver anywhere near budget. Key funding components include the $34 million just committed to the aquarium, a Local Improvement District assessment of waterfront residents and businesses, and another $20 million in “private philanthropy.”
The city’s tendencies for cost overruns and delays are once again being demonstrated. There are vastly less expensive ways to give people a dramatic view while delivering them to the waterfront, and it may be time we start to explore them.
Bob Stevens, Seattle