Muskegon leaders welcome aquarium study

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — John Ball Zoo is looking to bring a premier aquarium to West Michigan. 

It’s conducting an economic and feasibility study to see where it would fit best.

Zoo officials were originally looking at Millennium Park in Kent County. Then Muskegon officials expressed their interest. 

 “We’ve been looking for different methods, ways to maximize our beautiful lakefront,” said Jake Eckholm, Muskegon’s development services director. 

Proposals were made in the mid-1990s to build an aquarium in Muskegon. 

“People in Muskegon for years have been voicing we should have an aquarium,” Mayor Stephen Gawron said. “We’re right on the water.”

City leaders say there are several waterfront locations that could house the proposed aquarium. 

Among them, an undeveloped area between Mart Dock and The Shoreline Inn. Another option would be land behind the Westpack packaging building on W Western Avenue. 

“We don’t want to displace any existing assets, but we do have several opportunities for redevelopment on Muskegon Lake which would suit this amenity well,” Eckholm said. 

Another factor Eckholm says that plays into the city’s favor is the freshwater research that takes place nearby. 

“We already have a large research presence on Muskegon Lake, both with NOAA and Grand Valley State University,” Eckholm said. “Aquariums really look for that when they can combine research with the amenities they offer the public.”

John Ball Zoo’s study is scheduled to be completed next year. 

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