VENTURA : County Invests in Aquarium Study

Ventura County supervisors agreed Tuesday to put $6,000 toward studying a plan to build an aquarium at Channel Islands Harbor, but cautioned that they could not afford to pay for the project.

"They are very expensive to construct, they are very expensive to maintain," Supervisor Vicky Howard said. "And if they're not maintained properly, they're not an attraction."

Oxnard merchants hope an aquarium would draw new customers to the quaint shops around the harbor. Ventura is considering a similar project at its harbor complex a few miles up Harbor Boulevard.

The county will join the cities of Oxnard and Port Hueneme in funding an intensive, $16,000 study of a possible Channel Islands aquarium.

Two consultants, working with a local committee, will recommend the size of the facility, the type of exhibits and the potential attendance it could generate.

"This is simply putting together a concept, seeing generally what will work--and what won't work--at Channel Islands Harbor," Supervisor John K. Flynn said.

If the concept is approved, consultants would then assess the costs and means of financing the project, Flynn said.

"This may be an opportunity; it may not be a good opportunity. You have to explore," Chief Administrative Officer Richard Wittenberg told the board. "We're certainly not looking at subsidizing this. That would be the last thing we need."

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