Generations from now, what will Space Coast residents recall about 2019? Among other achievements, we hope that it’s remembered as the year our community set plans in motion for a world-class aquarium and conservation center at Port Canaveral.
The project saw a “soft launch” at the Zoo’s annual Safari Under the Stars gala on April 27. At the conclusion of the program, executive director Keith Winsten invited every current and former board member in attendance to join him on stage. This group of influential leaders made a simple ask of their audience: give us your blessing to involve you in this ambitious undertaking; the response was overwhelmingly positive, and a preview of the tremendous public support that materialized in the coming months.
Following a request for proposals filed in the spring, the aquarium task force committee selected Orlando-based HHCP Architects as our design firm. Their experience designing aquariums and themed attractions—coupled with a bold vision for this project—won us over, and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the coming year.
The “Aquarium Project” campaign launched in August with a website and social media presence. Later that month, we hosted our first Strategic Doing session and developed dozens of ideas that could garner public interest in and support for such a massive initiative.
Across two nights in September, individuals representing a variety of interests and industries joined us to provide feedback on our proposed design concept, ensuring the aquarium and conservation center’s ability to serve as many audiences as possible.
A second Strategic Doing event was held in November with many returning attendees recruiting their friends and colleagues into the process. One of the most exciting, tangible outcomes of these sessions was the introduction of a resolution in support of the Aquarium Project to every Brevard County city government; so far, it has been approved by Satellite Beach, Cape Canaveral, Indian Harbour Beach and the Brevard County Commission.
Thanks to you, we’ve made great strides this year, and we’ll continue to do so in 2020. One of our champions, State Representative Randy Fine, has filed a bill seeking $1.3 million in state funding that we expect to be voted on in by the Florida House of Representatives in January; we look forward to State Senator Debbie Mayfield doing the same in the Florida Senate. A third Strategic Doing session is scheduled for February to bring more people into the fold. And we anticipate many more cities will hop on board by approving resolutions.
Our next challenge is to pull the central Florida community together to raise the tens of millions of dollars it will take to turn this vision into reality—a vision that will transform our waterways, permanently improve the quality of life in our region, and keep us on the forefronts of innovation and conservation. If you’d like to join us on this journey, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up for our email newsletter.