FRANKFORT (WAVE) - Governor Steve Beshear announced plans on Wednesday to build a full-scale replica of Noah's Ark as part of a new tourist attraction in Northern Kentucky. Multiple sites are currently being considered, although property in Grant County of I-75 is said to be the most likely location.
"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."
A recent feasibility study conducted by renowned America's Research Group has indicated that the Ark Encounter may attract 1.6 million visitors in the first year and is expected to employ up to 900-full-and-part-time staff.
In addition to the full-sized Ark, the complex will include a Walled City much like was found in ancient times, live animal shows, a children's interactive play area, a replica of the Tower of Babel with exhibits, a 500-seat 5-D special effects theater, an aviary and a first-century Middle Eastern village.
The builders behind this new theme park are seeking tax incentives under the Kentucky Tourism Act, which allows for up to 25-percent of the cost of a project to be recovered. Advocates of the separation of church and state say that any state involvement in the site may raise issues regarding the separation of church and state.
The for-profit Ark Encounter project will be funded privately at an estimated cost of $150 million and is due to open in the Spring of 2014.
Advocates of the Separation of Church and State say that any state involvement in the site may not be right.
Michael Aldridge, Executive Director of the ACLU of Kentucky says:
"While it does not appear that this proposed tax incentive structure would violate the establishment clause as it has been construed by the courts, the wisdom of such a proposal can be called into question when Kentucky continues to struggle in providing adequate funding for our existing education system".
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