$3M renovation plan for Skidaway Institute of Oceanography awaits governor's signature

$3M renovation plan for Skidaway Institute of Oceanography awaits governor's signature

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said he would veto the religious exemption bill, but the House and Senate-approved state budget remains on his desk. It's a plan that could bring big bucks to our area.

Included the budget is $3 million to be used to upgrade an existing building at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

"We've been talking about re-purposing this for some time."

An unassuming, white, rounded building sits nestled in the trees at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. To a passerby, it may look like a barn, and that's because it once was.

"The building that's behind me was built in the mid 1940's by the Roebling family as a place to house prized cattle," said James Sanders, Executive Director, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.

It wasn't until the late 1960's that the Skidaway Institute was established. That's when they re-purposed the cattle stalls into laboratory space.

"It's an underutilized now, not a conditioned building, so it has begun to deteriorate over the past years," Sanders said.

In 2016, the building could use an overhaul.

"We have taken a lot of the stalls and turned them into labs and storage facilities for our lab purposes, and what we'll do, when we re-purpose this building, is open these back up, and these will be very visible spaces. They'll be research and teaching laboratories, but the public will be able to see what's going on inside. Many of them will be open with glass walls so people can see the research as it goes on and get a better feel for what we do here on the coast of Georgia; preserve the resources we have and ensure that they're available for generations to come," said Sanders.

If Governor Deal approves the budget, the $3 million will cover the cost of renovation. After that, the teaching and research done in the building will help pay for its maintenance.

"We hope, of course, that he'll pass the entire budget, including this structure with it," Sanders said.

It's a unique way to preserve history while hopefully paving the way for future scientific discoveries.

The House and Senate approved the budget last Monday. The governor has 40 days after that date to sign it.

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