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Power Authority Grant On Track for Aquarium

By Tony Farina

Mayor Dyster,Councilmember Kristen Grandinetti and primary winner Andrew Touma at the aquarium fundraiser at the Conference Center.
Gazette publisher, Peter Mio, Gay Molnar, executive director of the aquarium and Tony Farina from the Niagara Falls Reporter at the “Winds, Waves & Wines” gala for the aquarium.
Paula Roscetti, Jim Roscetti and Fran Hall attend lastweek’s big fundraiser for the aquarium of Niagara.

"This is the Aquarium’s time," said Gay Molnar, executive director of the Aquarium of Niagara Falls, in responding to a question about the $1.75 million in Power Proceeds funding it is expected to receive as a result of a vote tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 24) by the full New York Power Authority board.

The grant was recommended by the Proceeds Allocation Board for expansion of the Aquarium, and Molnar told the Niagara Falls Reporter the grant money will be used for renovation and creation "of a brand new penguin exhibit," at the prime Niagara Falls tourism facility that opened in 1965.

Molnar is also celebrating a very successful fundraiser last Thursday at the Conference Center that attracted nearly 300 guests, headed by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and including Jim Roscetti, attorney for the Niagara Falls School Board, and Peter Mio, publisher of the Niagara Gazette.

"It was wonderful," said Molnar in commenting on the big turnout, saying it is an example of the support the Aquarium enjoys in the community.

"We’ve got fabulous supporters and staff," said Molnar, "and we are ready to take the next step [following the grant]" to move the Aquarium to another level. "We’re hoping that within the near future, tourists [and locals as well] will see a completely renovated Aquarium that will help extend their visits to Niagara Falls."

The Aquarium of Niagara, at 701 Whirlpool St., currently attracts about 270,000 visitors a year, according to Molnar, and the non-for-profit enjoys excellent reviews despite receiving a modest $50,000 a year in public funding with the rest coming from events like last week’s "Winds, Waves & Wines" gala sponsored by M & T Bank.

Assemblyman John Ceretto praised the Power Authority grant, and issued the following statement last week:

"The $1.75 million in Power Proceeds funding for the Aquarium of Niagara is a cornerstone for the economic revitalization of Niagara Falls. I fought for the Power Proceeds legislation to keep this money local so that economic development projects like this could get the funding they need. We are taking important steps to make our vision of Niagara Falls a reality. I envision a Niagara Falls that residents will be proud to call their home, and that tourists will be lining up to come visit. There is more to be done, but we are moving in the right direction."

The Aquarium features more than 1,500 aquatic animals and fish in addition to performing sea lions (every 90 minutes) and daily opportunities to watch sharks and penguins being fed.

Molnar calls the Aquarium one of the only year-round attractions for families in Niagara Falls, and she is hopeful that future growth will make it an even greater attraction for visitors from near and far.

You can find out more by visiting the Aquarium’s website at www.aquariumofniagara.org.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

SEP 24, 2013