- Special Sections
- Public Notices
It’s been a long time coming, but the hammer finally fell and construction on the Ark Encounter project is moving forward.
In an invitation only “Hammer and Peg” ceremony last week at the Creation Museum in Hebron, representatives from Answers In Genesis said bulldozers will be moving dirt on the 800-acre project off Ky. 36 in Williamstown by the end of the month.
“This is going to change the city of Williamstown,” said Ken Hamm, president, CEO and found of AIG. “By the way, this will change Northern Kentucky. All sorts of things are going to happen because of this.”
Hamm told the near capacity crowd of 900, that a poll by Vanity Fair Magazine and 60 Minutes indicates that 43 percent of the public surveyed would like to have Noah’s Ark discovered.
“Noah’s Ark is one of the most popular Bible stories,” he said.
The Ark Encounter is projected to open in June 2016. The first phase, which will be built on 200 acres of the property, will contain a full-scale wooden replica of Noah’s Ark, as well as interactive exhibits and animals.
Hamm said projections are 1.2 to 2.1 million visitors will visit the Ark in its first year of operation.
Plans to build the Ark were announced in December 2010, but it has taken AIG since that time to begin fundraising for the project and to obtain the land and construction permits.
Initially, the project was expected to be completed this summer. The delays prompted skepticism from some officials and county residents, but AIG officials have repeatedly said the project would be a reality.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring people into the state,” Hamm said.
When completed the Ark will be the largest wooden structure in North America.
“I do want to assure the people of Williamstown and county officials that we’re not building because we believe there will be a flood,” Hamm joked.
Several Grant County officials including Judge-Executive Darrell Link, Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner, Wade Gutman, executive director of the Grant County Chamber of Commerce, magistrates on the fiscal court and other city council members and officials attended the Hammer and Peg ceremony.
“It’s been a great three and a half years,” said Skinner. “There’s been that went on behind the scenes before this day. The city of Williamstown is excited about this project. Grant County is excited about this project.”
Skinner said he believes the city has spent the last few years working closely with the Ark Encounter developers to prepare for a tourism attraction of this magnitude.
“We are looking forward to the economic benefits of this project and appreciate the opportunity to be the home of the Ark Encounter,” Skinner said.