Plan for Aquarium in Milford Keeps Swimming Forward - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Plan for Aquarium in Milford Keeps Swimming Forward

MILFORD, Del. (WBOC) - Supporters of a multi-year effort to bring an aquarium to Milford believe they're not swimming up stream and an aquarium will become a reality for the town.

Fish swim in the waters of the Mispillion River in downtown Milford. They swim through this mural on a building wall in downtown Milford. And they swim through the image of the future for downtown Milford inside the head of Bill Pilecki.

He's president of the Milford Aquarium.

Pilecki first proposed the idea in 2010. And there was a feasibility study in 2011.

"It's going to be roughly a 30-35,000 sq. ft. facility," he said. "Because the company we're looking to contract with, Marinescape, has 21 aquariums around the world, we will have access to fish from all around the world. It basically is going to be a turnkey operation, where they will design the aquarium. They will construct it. They will stock it. And they will send in a management team to train us how to maintain the different environments."

Pilecki says putting the aquarium up somewhere in Milford would cost $18-20 million. He hopes federal grants would help cover that.

Right now, though, the focus is on just $46,000. That's how much it will cost to create a business plan.

The aquarium needs to cover $20,000 of that - has already raised $10,000 and expects to have the rest this year. Pilecki says the city of Milford and Kent County are picking up the rest.

Once open, Pilecki says the regional aquarium would focus on not just tourism but education and catering, too.

"In most studies you will find that the average revenue from tourism is not sufficient to cover the cost of operations of an aquarium."

The education piece is the focus of aquarium vice president, Patrick Bailey. He says students on Delmarva have access to aquariums - but not good access.

"They have trips to the National Aquarium. They have trips to the Camden Aquarium," said Bailey. "But you have to consider travel expenses. It's very hard to have an out-of-state field trip.

Pilecki says progress on the project has been slower than he'd like. But he believes in the aquarium and believes it can be successful.

"I believe it can, based on the feasibility study and traffic flow on DE 1 and US 113," Pilecki said.

If it happens, Pilecki says it would take two years to build the aquarium once funding was fully secured. So the painted fish downtown would get some new, very real neighbors in Milford.

Click here if you're interested in getting involved in the aquarium effort.

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