CNY Solidarity Coalition

United in defense of our community and our neighbors

Oppose the Onondaga Aquarium

Why oppose an Aquarium?

  • We have more important issues to address before considering a County Aquarium. Including but not limited to addressing poverty, increasing mental health services, building affordable housing, building better infrastructure like sewer, water, broadband, sidewalks, roads, etc., investing in public transportation, investing in education and more.
  • Aquariums are a risky bet financially and cause harm.
  • If this is a “build it, they will come” situation, how come development to this area hasn’t happened after the Carousel Center mall was built in 1990 or after they expanded into Destiny USA in 2012?
  • Residents generate most of the sales tax, not tourists.

Let’s face it… Aquariums are very expensive!

Help stop an expensive aquarium from being built with taxpayer money! Click below to sign the online petition.


Costs are already rising on the aquarium as important issues continue to be ignored by Onondaga County. Tell 
Onondaga County
 to Fund Families Not Fish!

June 2023

Read this letter: Suspend Aquarium Project 

After the Onondaga County Legislators voted 9 – 8 on June 6 to pay 1.7 million to COR Development for 4.7 acres of vacant land, reported on June 8 that County Executive Ryan McMahon did not tell legislators about chemicals found up to 7 feet deep in the soil. Information he had 4 days earlier, yet did not disclose with Onondaga County legislators before the vote to buy this land that was supposedly “cleaned up”. 

Democrat legislators requested the Legislature to meet in an emergency session to reconsider buying land at Inner Harbor for the aquarium and vote to put the aquarium project on hold for 60 days for legislators to learn how contaminated this land is from the DEC. But Republicans refused to call an emergency session.

If this land needs to be remediated, how much will this add to the aquarium project?  This question and more need to be answered. 

The County Executive and all 17 county legislators seats are up for election this year. Find out who is running, who will listen to The People, donate to their campaign and volunteer your time to make change in Onondaga County!

May 2023 – Cancel the Aquarium!

The 100% taxpayer funded Aquarium will be back on the Onondaga County legislature agenda! The legislators will vote on whether to purchase 4.7 acres of vacant land (most of which is in the 100-year floodplain boundary) for 1.7 million dollars. As all our housing, healthcare, food & additional expenses continue to rise, Ryan McMahon is still pushing forward with his aquarium which taxpayers will be on the hook for maintaining for years to come. 

With more information about design and operating coming out this summer. We need this information before the county legislature decides to purchase any land for its development. 

Read the articles below, send your comments to county legislators at and be ready to show up on June 6th at 1pm

August 2022Submitted over 1,000 signatures to County Legislators.

July 2022 – Over 1,000 signatures!!

We have reached over 1,000 signatures on our petition telling Onondaga County to prioritize human services before considering building an expensive aquarium with taxpayer money. We will continue to collect signatures as long as the county continues to waste taxpayer money pushing theirs.

Watch and share the press conference held on July 5th, outside the Onondaga County legislature and contact County Executive Ryan McMahon (315) 435-3516 | Onondaga County Legislators Emails & Phone Numbers can be found at or email all legislators at

June 2022 – In the News

May 18, 2022 – Our message is spreading! Our community is talking about poverty and solutions we should invest in instead of building an expensive aquarium.

Currently we have over 800 signatures on our petition. Thank you! Our goal is to reach over 1,000 signatures, please keep sharing. Below is just one of the messages that Onondaga County is spreading about their vanity project, but we fixed it. Share our version with all your friends.

No Taxpayer Funded Aquarium!

We like residents of Onondaga County... A LOT! Onondaga County and Central New York could be a top destination for folks from across the Northeast and beyond to come to live. A taxpayer funded aquarium in Onondaga County will be another drain on residents so they can't spend their money at our restaurants, shops and local businesses. This means our economy weakens and stagnates and that's really bad for ALL of us!

A taxpayer maintained in Onondaga County will also need hundreds of volunteers. Thanks to all the unpaid work of our community, there will be new low paying jobs at the aquarium. 

Aquariums are expensive and hurt animals at the same time! They provide lots of educational opportunities for children of all ages as well as a lifetime of captivity for marine life!

If only Onondaga County liked residents as much as it does as building things for tourists. Currently Onondaga County Executive McMahon has proposed 10 million to help develop housing and 110 million for tourists. A little unbalanced and backwards when we have more significant issues to address.

Look at the sales taxes collected over a 15 year period, the largest increase of over 71 million dollars came after Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which gave families monthly payments.

We have the highest rates of child poverty in the country. Tell Onondaga County to spend 85 million on Our Children, not fish.
We have the highest rates of child poverty in the country. Tell Onondaga County to spend $85 million on Our Children, not fish. Download this graphic and share!

Spread the Word

Print our flyer to post on community boards and more!

What do you want Onondaga County to spend $85 million on? Share the graphics below to tell others and share the petition link:

Contact Your Representatives

County Executive Ryan McMahon

(315) 435-3516 |

Onondaga County Legislators

Emails & Phone Numbers can be found at or email all legislators at

Letters to the Editor

Consider the welfare of marine animals in captivity

Here’s an idea: Build a sustainable food system instead of aquarium

Aquarium project needs to be more than a sketch to succeed

County legislator to executive: Hold town hall meetings on aquarium plan

Onondaga County should spend $85 million on public health, not an aquarium.

Arguments for $85M aquarium don’t hold water.

You bet we’re questioning aquarium. We’ve been burned before.

About that aquarium proposal … What’s the rush? What about the pandemic?

‘Cheerleaders’ got Destiny mall wrong. Now, they’re wrong about $85M aquarium

Would McMahon’s $85M aquarium reel in tourists and investments for Syracuse?

What letter writers would spend money on instead of an aquarium.

Instead of an $85M aquarium, Onondaga County should buy Covid-19 tests

Look around to see why comparison to Baltimore aquarium falters.

Brewerton needs sewers before anyone needs an aquarium.

Write your own letter the editor about the proposed aquarium, check out our guide on how to write a letter to the editor.


Onondaga County Aquarium $120,000 “Feasibility” Study

RFP for Aquarium Architectural & Engineering Design Services

RFP for Aquarium Operations

Aquarium Project Repeats Familiar Mistakes

Bursting the Aquarium Bubble


November 18, 2000

1987: Carousel Center mall is proposed. An aquarium emerges as a possible tourist attraction.

1991: A $100,000 Metropolitan Development Association survey of uses for Onondaga Lake’s shoreline says an aquarium would be desirable.

1992: The CNYRPDB creates a foundation to put together the project. The concept is a free-standing aquarium focusing only on freshwater fish with a research center.

1993: The foundation hires Quinlivan, Pierik & Krause of Syracuse to do a $90,000 feasibility study.

1994: The regional planning board announces plans for a $43 million aquarium, science museum and landscaped park. It would be a freshwater aquarium with displays that highlight the changing conditions in the lake.

1995: The Aquarium Development Co. is formed by architect Al Dal Pos, builder Jim Breuer and two partners to build a combination aquarium, community center and research and teaching site. Money for the project would come from private sources. They hope to open it in 1997.

1997: The aquarium evolves to include a “3-D” theater showing films and interactive, computer displays. It would be built on two levels on 10 acres on the west side of the Inner Harbor. Proponents describe glass-enclosed tunnels in shark tanks and room-sized windows.

1997: Pyramid Cos. founder Robert Congel convinces the group to make the aquarium part of an expanded Carousel Center mall.

2000: Still looking for ways to raise 50 million.

September 24, 2002

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