The structure was built during the years of Mayor Karl R. Burns and was in it's day a bid at breathing life into the Zoo at a time of serious problems there.
In 2003, a fund raising campaign was held to improve the aviary. There is still a plaque with names of donors on the building, which now houses a pair of turkeys and nothing more. The proposal to demolish came in a perfunctory memo and surprised Council members who grew up in a Watertown where the building was at the center of the Zoo.
A unanimous City Council wanted to provide renewed use for the building and authorized plans to be drawn in conjunction with City and Zoo officials.
Aviary As It Is Today Houses Just Two TurkeysInitially, Council wanted to correct the stated deficiencies which had been allowed to accumulate over time, but the project morphed into an enclosed learning center and that prompted lots of codes issues including adding rest rooms even though the building is about 30 feet from the main Zoo building where there are such amenities.
More recently, the Zoo had suggested addition of technology to allow for "distance learning" efforts with area school districts unable to make field trips.
The bidding process allows Council to reassess where the project has evolved and that will certainly not include a million dollar rebuild.
Step one is to find out why bid estimates were so far off and step two is for rational people to sit down and discuss what direction to head next.
Those discussions will include Zoo Director John Wright and incoming Zoo Board Chair Bob Gorman.
Watertown Daily Times | Council members to discuss high bids for zoo’s aviary project