(Frankfort, Ky.) - A new amusement park is coming to Grant County, but there are questions about incentives being offered by the state of Kentucky.
A sketch of the Noah's Ark portion of Ark Encounter.
Answers in Genesis, the operator of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, is partnering with Ark Encounter, LLC on the Noah’s Ark-themed park called Ark Encounter.
“We are very pleased to be a part of this new project,” said Ken Ham, president and founder of AiG and the Creation Museum. “AiG has been blessed to see the Creation Museum host over one million guests in three years. Based on our experience and success operating the large, state-of-the-art Creation Museum, our board believes the time is right to partner with the Ark Encounter in building a full-scale Noah's Ark. We hope that this fun and educational complex called the Ark Encounter will become another popular tourist destination for the state.”
The two were joined by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear in Frankfort Wednesday to reveal plans for Ark Encounter, an attraction that could lure as many as 1.6 million guests each year once it opens in 2014.
Beshear says the state is offering tourism development tax incentives. However, advocates for separation of church and state say there may be issues there. The governor says his legal team has reviewed any First Amendment conflicts and does not believe there is a problem.
“We have reviewed it from a legal standpoint,” said Beshear. “I think it’s clear that this is an economic development project. Our laws don’t allow us to discriminate as to the entertainment subject matter of a theme park.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and officials with
Ark Encounter discuss the ambitious project during
a press conference Wednesday.
Economic benefits could be as plentiful as the fun offered at Ark Encounter. As many as 900 jobs will be created.
The park is projected to have an annual economic impact of $250 million each year statewide.
“We are excited to join with the Ark Encounter group as it seeks to provide this unique, family-friendly tourist attraction to the Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Bringing new jobs to Kentucky is my top priority, and with the estimated 900 jobs this project will create, I am happy about the economic impact this project will have on the Northern Kentucky region.”
Answers in Genesis did say during the announcement they are not completely set on building in Kentucky, and may still consider Indiana.
The fun park would be built on 800 acres near Veterans Park in Williamstown. In addition to a 500-foot-long Noah’s Ark replica with live animals, the park would also boast a walled city, Tower of Babel, and other biblical attractions.
A price tag on the entire project would be around $150 million, privately funded. The developers have begun an online donation drive to raise $24.5 million needed to build the all-wooden ark.