Northern Kentucky was recently announced as the site of the The Ark Encounter, the latest Christian-themed amusement venture from Answers in Genesis. The organization, also known for its Creation Museum in nearby Petersburg, describes itself as a Christian-defending ministry dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith effectively. The group's new $150 million park will feature a gigantic wooden ark inspired by the Bible. And as Msnbc.com reports, the builders plan to use LEED building techniques on the ark and throughout the park.
Slated to open in the spring of 2014, the 160-acre complex will showcase the full-scale replica of Noah’s ark. The theme park will also offer other attractions, such as a live animal show and a Middle Eastern first century village. As the Ark Encounter website reports, the builders plan to use environmentally friendly techniques throughout. They will also rely on local companies and products made in the area. The builders also plan to use solar, geothermal, wind and water technologies in the mechanical systems throughout the park.
The ark itself will be constructed from wood, but no word on if this will be sustainably farmed timber. As builders told reporters at a news conference, the ark construction is based on naval engineering. The ark will reference history in its construction, using as models boats dating within a few hundred years of the Biblical flood.
Ark Encounter aims to pay for much of the Ark’s $125 million construction through donations. Msnbc.com reports that individual donors can go to the Ark Encounter site to make donations. A $1,000 donation will earn you a plank on the ark, while $5,000 will get you a beam.
But the park is not without controversy. As Msnbc.com reports, under state tourism development laws the Ark Encounter can recover as much as 25 percent of the project’s cost by recouping sales tax revenue on the park’s attractions. As Grant County Judge-executive Darrell Link told Msnbc.com, “With every ark there is a rainbow, and at the end of this rainbow is a pot of gold.” The board of American Atheists and others decry this as an act of implicit government support of a religious organization.
Nonetheless, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is confident this is the right decision for the state. As Beshear told reporters, “Let me express why state government is so excited. The numbers along tell the tale. This park is projected to create nearly 900 jobs including 550 full-time jobs. In this economy, these are jobs that are desperately needed.”