Coney aquarium gets $4.5 million in capital funds to support programming

The check donated by Council Member Ari Kagan will go towards capital needs of the NY Aquarium.
$4.5 million in capital funding for the New York Aquarium, presented Oct. 19 by Councilmember Ari Kagan, will go toward strengthening life support systems and expanding on exhibits and educational programming.
Councilmember Ari Kagan’s Office

The New York Aquarium in Coney Island was presented a “symbolic” $4.5 million check from the City Council on Oct. 18, aimed at helping the local institution continue to build back a decade after Superstorm Sandy.

The funds — allocated by Councilmember Ari Kagan in partnership with the Council’s Brooklyn Delegation and with additional allotments from Council Speaker Adrienne Adams — will go toward strengthening the aquarium’s life support systems and a variety of educational programs and exhibits, according to officials.

“The New York Aquarium is thankful to Councilmember Kagan and the City of New York for the continued support,” said John F. Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, operators of the aquarium. “The care and welfare of the animals at the New York Aquarium animals is our top priority and these funds will directly benefit the sea lions, harbor seals, African penguins, and others as we make improvements to vital life support systems and infrastructure at the Sea Cliffs and Sea Change exhibits.”

The money will be used for capital needs of the aquarium dating back to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Kagan said, and it will also fund different classes and programs at the center — all while helping to create jobs in southern Brooklyn, including in Coney Island.

“The sea animals were thrilled to meet so many honorable guests and were excited to see this big check to the Aquarium,” said Kagan. “On a more serious note, I am proud to support this prominent wildlife center, its educational programs and jobs for the community.”

Council member Ari Kagan visits the NY Aquarium to gift them with a $4.5 million check.
Councilmember Ari Kagan got up close and personal with the New York Aquarium’s residents on the day of the check presentation.Councilmember Ari Kagan’s Office

During the ceremony, Kagan presented the check to Acting Executive Director of the NY Aquarium Craig Piper and Assistant Director Christopher Durosinmi. Celebrants were joined by other local leaders, including Eddie Mark, district manager of Community Board 13, Pamela Pettyjohn, founder and president of the Coney Island Beautification Project, and District Leader Dionne Brown-Jordan, among others.

Locals like Kagan and Pettyjohn have continually put in efforts to rebuild Coney Island after the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy. In concordance with the 10-year anniversary of the storm, the Coney Island Beautification Project is hosting its tenth Mermaid Avenue Project, during which participants will plant hundreds of colorful flowers on Mermaid Avenue.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the group will gather with several local youth groups, businesses, organizations and everyday volunteers for a “Sandy-Commemorative Day of Service.”

coney island beach covered in wood and debris after sandy
Coney Island was hard-hit by the storm, and several of its public housing development are still recovering ten years after catastrophic winds and flooding devastated the coastal nabe.File photo by Paul Martinka

The day’s activities will include, catch basin and tree bed cleaning, business outreach, flood barrier giveaways, bulb planting along the corridor and sharing information to encourage community involvement and education, according to a spokesperson for the non-profit.

“We are proud of the fortitude and the resiliency of our neighbors during the past ten years,” Pettyjohn said in a statement. “Keep up the good work.”