They want to tear the Aviary down.
The odd-shaped building in the Thompson Park Zoo was built in 1979 with a combination of city and state dollars augmented by funds from the Watertown Foundation (now the NNY Community Foundation).
It was a signature project for Mayor Karl Burns and part of an early effort to rebuild the zoo which by then was more than a bit run-down.
Years later a group known as the Thompson Park Conservancy came along and through fundraising and vision began taking the beleaguered and actually defunct zoo in a positive direction. Lots of improvements have been made and its the type of enterprise people enjoy giving to.
Last fall I was pleased to raise some $1100 in a Beers for Bears promotion in taverns and I am always happy to support projects like the WDT effort to raise money for the otter exhibit.
So, I was shocked when I read a letter from the Zoo-erarchy that the towering Aviary building lacked a "Wow" factor and should be demolished.
We've torn down a lot over the years because folks decided it was out of style, or not worth the effort to maintain. (A couple of years back, Councilwoman Burns says she recalls contributing to an Aviary fund drive.)
Let me speak some heresy and say this building does have a wow factor...It's a curiosity and for those of us with longer roots in the area, a part of history.
Ultimately, its a City asset and its disposition is the decision of the City Council.
Council plans a visit soon to the facility and we hope in the meantime the good folks at the Conservancy will reconsider their position and see this structure as something worth saving, just like the old DEC fire tower or the Superintendent's home.