The Maritime Aquarium saw an outpouring of support at Tuesday's Common Council meeting -- but it turns out there was really nothing to worry about.
"We had no intentions of not approving the lease," said councilman Bruce Kimmel, who sits on the city's land use committee.
The issue at hand was a new lease agreement for the aquarium, which the council approved unanimously.
"Our concern was the number of visitors coming to the aquarium every year, and how it served as a magnet to draw people to Norwalk and South Norwalk," Kimmel said. "We're happy with that."
The new lease runs through 2031. The aquarium will not pay rent to the city, but will pay for repairs and maintenance.
In 1986 the city issued $24 million in bonds, but Kimmel says in 26 years the aquarium had only paid off about $50,000. So, the city settled the debt in February.
Kimmel said the original agreement had the aquarium paying off the debt through "excess revenues," but that was never a realistic expectation.
"We didn't expect them to [pay the debt], nor did we care if they did," he said.
"To the people who think we should clamp down and force the aquarium to pay the money they owe: [the aquarium] would go into default and, eventually, we'd have to shut them down."