Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Trouble for the Good Ship Noah

It seems that the Ark Encounter is not quite being upfront about some things. is now reporting that, despite Governor Steve Beshear's comments to the contrary, he and state officials never saw a feasibility study for the proposed theme park. Linda Blackford writes:

The state doesn't have a copy of the report, according to responses to requests under the Open Records Act sent by the Herald-Leader to the state tourism and economic development departments and to the governor's office.

Officials with Ark Encounter also declined to give the Herald-Leader a copy of the 10,000-page report, including its 200-page executive summary.

According to the company's summary of the study, the project is expected to create more than 900 full- and part-time jobs in Grant County, a number that Beshear has now mentioned in various venues around the state as he prepares for his re-election campaign next year.

Given the traffic that goes through the Creation Museum every year, though, it is not clear that this has been oversold. Nonetheless, it has some people riled up:
“We've got people making state economic development decisions without actually seeing the numbers,” said Jim Waters of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, a Libertarian-leaning think tank in Bowling Green. “I think that's outrageous.”
Given that most states are hurting for money and budgets are going out of control, it is understandable from a financial point of view that this would be a problem. That it will continue to make Kentucky the scientific laughing stock of the country is almost beside the point. According to Beshear spokeswoman Kerri Richardson, however, the state is not on the hook for this:
“The state doesn't put in a penny to this project until it is completed, operating, and hitting the agreed-upon performance goals set through the Tourism Development Act,” Richardson said. “If they complete the project and it doesn't perform as well as projected, then the state does not pay a nickel on the deal.”
If this continues to be a rocky adventure, however, it may sink the re-election campaign of Beshear. Meanwhile, those in the scientific community continue to stare in amazement and scratch their heads.

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