Tonight, City Council makes a quick side trip to the Thompson Park Zoo to hear why the Thompson Park Conservancy wants the 31 year old Aviary razed.
In a letter, the Conservancy's head said the A-framed shape structure is in disrepair and lacks the "wow factor" visitors are looking for. Four years ago a public fundraising effort was conducted for the Aviary, the construction of which was headed by Mayor Karl Burns in an early attempt to spruce up a zoo which at the time was struggling.
I hear the architecture doesn't sit well with some who want a more Adirondack style building similar to the main visitors center.
In more recent years, the Zoo has been remade through efforts of a private group called the Conservancy. The city has supported that through in-kind work, electricity, and a small cash stipend of $20K a year.
The questions likely to be raised include what are the deficiecies ? What will it take to repair them ? Why was it allowed to fall into a state where demolition is contemplated ? What is the plan for the site ?
Most residents I have talked to scratch their heads at the proposal and some of those involved in its construction do the same. It is a somewhat iconic looking building which is routinely featured in promotional photos of the Zoo.
As current Mayor, I am also keenly aware of the importance of the Aviary to then Mayor Burns, who was an important figure in my early political life and was a person I was asked to eulogize upon his passing some years ago.
While only one of five votes on this issue, I will concede from the onset that I am skeptical of the notion of demolition and am hopeful a new look at the mission of the structure and some rehabilitation can keep it in the landscape of the Park.
After tonights tour of the building, Council will retire to City Hall to continue budget deliberations.