Temple: Work on mall aquarium held up by code dispute

TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) After several delays in opening and even questions about the company’s legitimacy, 7 Seas Aquarium says it’s ready to bring its 13 tanks into the Temple Mall after an attorney and engineer were recently hired.

The opening of the 7 Seas Aquarium in the Temple Mall has been delayed. (7 Seas photo/file)

Attorney Damon Goff says the aquarium operators have not started work inside in the Temple Mall because of a code disagreement between the curator of the aquarium and the city of Temple.

Goff says the city was enforcing pool codes on the aquarium, which Goff says do not apply, but is all up to interpretation in the international plumbing code.

"If the pool code is applied to an aquarium, as it’s been suggested, it'll kill the fish. So there is no point in even bothering to set up if we're going to apply the code in some odd way where all the fish would die," Goff said.

After a meeting between Goff, a representative from Belton Engineers and city officials, Goff says the pool code is no longer being enforced.

The city now says it is requesting remodeling permits and a submitted plan, which Goff says will be completed in the coming days.

With many permit restrictions taken care of, Goff says workers will begin moving tanks into the mall, but a new opening date has not been announced.

He says curator Fidel Junco was very optimistic in his estimated opening dates, however, he says its normal for the first aquarium in a city to have delays in opening as it works out codes with the city.

Twelve employees have been hired to work at the aquarium according to Goff, though he was not willing to release any names after, he says, one employee was harassed online for involvement with the company.

Residents have expressed concerns after paying for annual passes to the aquarium whether the company actually intends on opening, and according to Goff some have gone as far as calling police.

"I asked a detective with [the City of Temple], do you have any worries, at all, about there being some kind of criminal behavior and the detective told me, 'of course not,'" Goff said.

"A refund is absolutely possible, in discussions with Fidel he is just asking people for their patience. If after we open people feel like they aren't getting what they pay for absolutely ask for a refund. 7 Seas Aquarium is doing something difficult and unique and we just ask for patience in trying to get this done," Goff said.

Anyone wanting a refund before the aquarium opens may also do so by emailing the company according to Goff.

He says this is the first aquarium Junco is running on his own, but has previously worked on eight different aquariums and has an extensive knowledge in marine life.

KWTX has requested a list of those aquariums and is waiting to receive it.