TYBEE ISLAND, GA (WTOC) -After more than a decade of discussion, plans for a new marine science center on Tybee Island are becoming reality.
The current facility is on Strand Avenue, near the Parker Pier and Pavilion on the island’s south end. The Tybee Island City manager says the spot has been great for many years but they need room to expand.
“The current facility that they are in they are outgrowing," says Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen. "The facility is antiquated. They have been in it since 1990.”
It will continue in operation until the new $4 million facility opens.
The space for the center is already closed off by construction areas and a fence.
The new facility will feature two large indoor galleries, a walking deck over the dunes, direct access to the beach and an outdoor theater. When it came to deciding where the new facility would be located, it was decided the North Beach area would be the best fit.
“Embedding this facility within the environment they are studying is where they want to go," said Gillen. "And the best place to do that was here at the North Beach.”
Land on the north end of the parking lot was already owned by the city. By placing the facility here it will eliminate around 30-40 parking spaces. Business owners like Kathryn Williams are worried about limited parking.
“What I would like to see is more ride sharing," said Williams. "I know the city is implementing the new bus service, or re-installing the new bus service, and I think that will be a great asset. And, you know, to save on parking and to help save the environment, people need to carpool.”
Gillen says they have already thought about the parking issues and have a plan in place.
“There was a plan done some time ago to re-work this parking lot," said Gillen. "To make the parking a little more efficient so we can get more spots into the area.”
He says the city will also look at entry ways to the facility to add parking. Overall, they see a net increase in parking once the facility is complete. As for the inconvenience for business owners and residents during the building process, Williams says it will be worth it in the end and it will hopefully bring more business during their slower seasons.
“We feel like any inconveniences will be minimal and short term and the long range benefits to Tybee and our community will be huge.”
Foundation work on the new facility will begin either this week or next. The entire project is set to be complete in February of 2020. As for the old building, the city isn’t sure what they will turn that building into yet. They will look at the condition and council will discuss it’s future.
Click here to take a look at what the blueprints for the building.