Tucson City Council votes to suspend Reid Park Zoo expansion for 45 days

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 11:03 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - In a six to one vote, the Tucson City Council voted to suspend the Reid Park Zoo expansion Tuesday night.

The motion voted on is as follows:

“I move that the Mayor and Council direct the City Manager to take all actions necessary to suspend or pause the expansion project in the best interest of the city and associated design and construction contract for 45 days. That the City manager organize a mediated and intentional dialogue with representatives and diverse groups of community stakeholders to discuss potential options for compromise. The group should meet as many times as needed and consist of representatives from neighborhoods surrounding Reid Park, Save the Heart of Reid Park, Parks and Recreation, the Zoological Society, and representatives from Ward 6 and 5.”

Save the Heart of Reid Park has been protesting this since November, citing that there was not enough transparency from the zoo on taking away parts of Reid Park in the expansion.

Council member Karin Uhlich agreed, and said despite evidence provided by the zoo, she did not feel the public outreach was transparent enough.

“If we had posted something rather than ‘do you support an expansion of the zoo’--which some people will focus on and dive into without saying-- ‘because it’s a contraction of the Reid park space’ then a whole lot of more people would have engaged I think,” said Uhlich.

Save the Heart of Reid Park said Tuesday they are deeply grateful for the kind consideration of the mayor and council and look forward to creating a win-win solution. But putting the pause on construction will have a cost.

“Even though they wont be moving forward to begin construction they have certain costs that will continue to accrue and the city will be responsible for paying,” said City Attorney Mike Rankin.

Lloyd construction, who’s contracted for the expansion, told Rankin a pause would cost the city $65 thousand a month to cover personnel they would have to keep on board, insurance, and maintaining contracts with subcontractors. On top of that if there is a redesign of the Zoo’s master plan, new costs will come on top of the nearly $3 million that’s already been spent.

“It’s going to have to come back to the mayor and council for approval,” said Rankin on if a redesign is done.

Reid Park Zoo released a statement saying:

“We remain committed to providing all Tucson citizens with the world-class Zoo promised to them in 2018.We are disappointed the projects are being delayed, but look forward to an open and productive dialogue with the stakeholders and the City of Tucson, working together to reach an acceptable resolution.”

Council member Steve Kozachik presented one tonight that favors creating a new spot on the north side, and allowing the zoo to move forward.

“It’ll contain many of the features and the potential for more than the Barnum area,” Kozachik explained.

More ideas could come to light over the next 45 days that these groups meet.

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