SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Watching Ryan McMahon work to convince skeptical legislators that the aquarium will be as valuable as he thinks it will be reminded Joanie Mahoney of her journey to build the amphitheater on Onondaga Lake.

She got what she wanted. Now county executive, McMahon still hasn’t.

When asked if she supports his $85 million project, Mahoney chooses her words carefully. She said: “I am no longer county executive, and it wouldn’t be fair for me. It’s Ryan’s time.”

“I think he’s working toward what can be a really great project, ” she says when pushed. “But it’s his project. What I’ll do is play the President of ESF role and say we are on board in whatever this looks like… we will be a part of it.”

Mahoney doesn’t know exactly how SUNY-ESF will play a role at Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, but she says it will.

“It was ESF faculty and students that provided the research and science and were instrumental in cleaning Onondaga Lake,” she said.

Options range from using the historic building sitting near the lake, operating a dock in the water and a floating classroom, and having space inside the aquarium.

She hopes the relationship ESF has with the aquarium is similar to the partnership at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo through student internships and faculty advising exhibits.

Mahoney and McMahon have been in touch on possible coordination, which Mahoney specifically wants to be known to clear up misinformation.

She says ESF’s role and presence will adapt based on what the Onondaga County Legislature decides.

Mahoney said: “I do think something has to happen here at the Inner Harbor because… taxpayers in Onondaga County spent half a billion dollars to clean this lake and it’s time for them to reap the benefit.”