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Catoosa seeks grant to buy Blue Whale December 31, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The city of Catoosa, Okla., has applied for a $600,000 grant to buy the iconic Blue Whale landmark and make improvements on its grounds, according to the Claremore Daily Progress.

Officials should know by February whether it receives a state Transportation Enhancement Grant to purchase the Blue Whale, enlarge its parking lot, install decorative signs, and build a trail along Route 66 from a Reasor’s grocery store west of the grounds.

The whale has been privately owned since it was built in the 1970s, and Lamkin said only one member of the owning family — Catoosa resident Dick Belt — survives.

Belt told city officials he’s willing to sell if the city vows to preserve the landmark. He owns the whale, the parking lot and surrounding land — all of which city officials hope to buy.

With excitement increasing, Lamkin believes the time is right.

“We have an opportunity with one remaining family member who’s the sole owner of all of it now,” she said. [...]

She said there are also plans to replace the deteriorating former Animal Reptile Kingdom, a model of an ark, with a replica.

According to the story, the entire project would cost $720,000, with the city covering $120,000 of that.

To their credit, city officials have done a lot of work and organized events to bring more interest to the Blue Whale, including a Christmas lighting ceremony a few weeks ago.

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