Barry Odgen and the Marco Polo

Frustration builds as Marco Polo project stalls

New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal 
Mon Jun 6 2011
Page: C4
Section: City
SAINT JOHN – After putting 25 years worth of work and money into building a 90-by-65-foot replica of the Marco Polo, Barry Ogden is frustrated with how long it is taking to find it a home.
The freshly painted clipper ship, which will never see water, only needs a mast and bowsprit to be finished.
“I’m a very patient person, you have to be when you put projects together, but it does take a long time in this community to make things happen,” Ogden said.
“You don’t ever want to give up but it does get very frustrating.”
The ship is under shrink wrap at a west side storage facility, but the model was only supposed to stay there until last Tuesday.
“We are under pressure to move. The people are being very nice to us,” Ogden said.
Enterprise Saint John and Uptown Saint John are supposed to conduct a study that will identify potential sites and address ownership issues, said Enterprise Saint John CEO Steve Carson.
The study was supposed to be complete by the end of the winter, but Carson says they need to wait for funding before they can even begin the study.
Enterprise Saint John and Uptown Saint John have applied to the Regional Development Corporation, a provincial crown corporation that co-ordinates regional and economic development initiatives, for money to conduct the study.
But the executive director of Uptown Saint John says the group isn’t getting very far.
“We were looking to the province to help cost-share in the project and unfortunately it doesn’t look like they will be doing that anytime soon,” Peter Asimakos said.
“We’re now going to discuss how we may be able to facilitate this as partner organizations.”
Saint John Portland MLA and Minister of Tourism and Parks Trevor Holder said he’s been in discussions with Ogden and Enterprise Saint John on the Marco Polo, but he hasn’t spoke to them recently.
“I’ve indicated to them I will continue to work with them to try and find a solution,” Holder said.
“If we can be part of the solution, we will be. I certainly have some calls in around government that could be helpful down the road.”
The replica is an important piece of the Bay of Fundy story the province is trying to market, the minister said.
A company that specializes in moving large loads has offered to move the boat for free once the ship has a home.
Ogden suggests the city needs to adopt more of a can-do attitude.
“I know we don’t like to be compared to Moncton but they definitely have a can-do attitude,” he said.
“What I find in this community is there’s two things that hold us back – negative attitudes and division.”