A Creationist group linked to Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis has launched a plan to build a life-size Noah’s Ark in Kentucky. They also want to use taxpayer money to do it.
The 510-foot ark will be the showcase of a new, religious-focused theme park created by Ark Encounter. To make it all possible, though, they need to use tax incentives to help lower costs as well as state help to improve access roads to the area.
“We can begin construction as soon as we get preliminary approval,” Mike Zovath, Ark Encounter’s project coordinator said. “And we expect to get that because the project fits all the criteria for the tourism act.”
It is easy to see why Zovath is hopeful. Three years ago, when the project was first proposed, they won the right to tax incentives for the entire $172.5 million dollar project. That project was delayed due to funding issues.
While their new proposal is more modest, if approved, the tax incentives will likely still cost the people of Kentucky as much as $18.25 million in rebates on sales tax in the first 10 years of operation.
Critics pointed out that this lost tax revenue, as well as costs for improving highway access, should not be the state’s problem because the theme park is blatantly evangelical in nature.
“It’s a religiously themed project with potentially evangelical overtones, and therefore it would erode the separation of church and state for it to receive any money from the taxpayers,” Sarah Jones, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, claiming that while the project had a right to exist, it did not have a right to exist at taxpayer expense.
Others, including Gov. Steve Beshear, however, counter that the costs paid out by the state will be more than recouped in tourist money coming into the area.
The Kentucky Tourism Development Finance Authority is set to decide on the theme park sometime next month.
Photo Credit: The Courier-Journal