It's been the topic of many debates throughout the past year, what to do with the Thompson Park Aviary. Now the city and the zoo are moving forward with a renovation concept they're both excited about. Our Amanda Kelley tells us more about the project and why it isn't just for the birds.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. - -When you walk into Thompson Park Zoo, it's the first thing you see. And the Aviary will soon be taking on a new look.
City of Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham said, "Council endorsed and formally decided to hire an engineering firm to draw up the specific plans so we can get a handle on the exact cost and what the project would look like."
The aviary's design is unique, but it's not functional for taking care of the birds and is in disrepair. The plan is to renovate it into something more practical while honoring the original design.
NYS Zoo Executive Director John Wright said, "The original design was for an aviary with the birds being so high up 30 feet away it kind of makes it hard to assess the animal's health, to really do the husbandry of certain animals."
The renovations to the aviary right now are estimated at about $280,000. But the mayor and zoo officials say it will add value to this area.
Wright said, "We hope to really be using it for educational purposes, a gathering place for potential revenue for birthday parties, executive business meetings and things like that."
Since this building is owned by the city, they will be funding the project. There is potential for some donations, but most of the expenses will be paid for with current tax revenues.
Graham said, "One source of revenue is so called bed tax, which means I think we do have a commitment to doing tourism related projects."
Both the zoo and the city agree sprucing this area up will be adding to visitor's overall zoo experience.
Graham said, "Well it's right smack dab in the middle of the zoo. It's a building that when you walk onto the grounds you say boy what's that."
Wright said, "It's the first thing our visitors see and we just really want to give them the wow factor."
The city hopes to make these changes before the end of the year. The original architect is helping to work on this renovation project. Zoo and city officials hope his involvement will help to maintain the buildings original concept.