STARK COUNTY, Ohio -- It’s the first of its kind for the area: an aquarium and water park all in one.
"There are water parks in Ohio and in the United State, and there are some really great aquariums, but not on the same site,” said Senior Partner Rex Ferguson.
He’s one of several behind the construction of Hammond Aqualife Aquarium and Waterpark in Stark County, a new attraction that’s expected to be up and running in less than a year.
"On the water park side, we will have an interior tropical climate -- in fact, it'll be based on a Florida-scape with live palm trees, fruit trees, and Jamaica grass instead of concrete,” he said.
The aquarium will have all kinds of wildlife, too, including marine mammals that were rescued and could not be reintroduced to their natural habitat. Ferguson said they plan to use that as a learning opportunity.
“What better contribution to make than to educate everyone on the conservation of their natural habitat,” he said.
Beyond that, there will also be a number of community outreach programs, along with a unique opportunity to sign up for therapy with marine mammals.
"People who quite frankly, might not be able to come to our location will be able to be there and not only participate but interact with the wildlife, so we're very excited about that component,” said Community Programs Director Robb First.
As far as support goes, he said they’re getting a lot of it.
"The response and reaction has been fantastic. A lot of local and national contacts coming forward wanting to help make this come alive,” he said.
The project will cost roughly $52 million.