Senator Roger Reinert introduced legislation this week to transfer ownership of the Great Lakes Aquarium from the City of Duluth to the University of Minnesota Duluth. This is identical to the legislation he introduced as a House member in 2009.
“I continue to believe that this is a win-win for all of us in the Northland,” he noted. “Turning over ownership will aid the City of Duluth in balancing future budgets, and UMD will gain a valuable resource for students and faculty.”
Sen. Reinert’s bill would pay off the remaining Great Lakes Aquarium construction debt. Today, this debt stands at $1.215 million, and is guaranteed by the City of Duluth. The transfer of ownership would also align the facility closely with its original mission of freshwater education and research. Reinert also noted that previous conversations with UMD included the option of keeping the current attraction spaces in place and run by existing non-profit management, while back room and lower level spaces would be optimized for research activities.
“The Great Lakes Aquarium continues to be a tremendous asset for Duluth,” said Senator Reinert, highlighting attendance figures which continually show it to be the most visited attraction in Duluth. “To have a successful future for the Aquarium, we must find a way to sustain it. My legislation lays out a future for the Aquarium and reinforces its mission to freshwater marine biology teaching and research for all of Minnesota.”
The Great Lakes Aquarium has been located on the Duluth waterfront since 2000. It offers tours, day camps, school visits and other educational opportunities for Minnesotans.
“In an era of limited resources, we must find ways to work together, collaborate, and share resources,” Sen. Reinert said.