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Elmira/Corning

Thompson Park zoo plans for new pavilion

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Thompson Park zoo plans for new pavilion
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Watertown's zoo is looking for an upgrade. Plans on what to do with the aviary at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park has left the city council with a project plan that could cost them more than they bargained for. While the council thinks the project is long overdue, our Carmella Mataloni tells us the price tag is concerning them.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- It's a landmark at the Thompson Park zoo, but it's in need of a drastic makeover.

"It actually gives us a new facility that our regular average guests can utilize," said John Wright, Executive Director of New York State Zoo.

The zoo's aviary has been trying to get a different look for many years. City engineers and zoo officials have come up with a project design plan that would turn the wooden eyesore into a stone-faced column, open-air pavilion. But the $435,000 cost is concerning council members.

"The question is cost and we are coming into budget and we want to make sure that support is not just an open blank check of support," Jeffery Smith, Watertown City Council.

But it’s the need for the project that is keeping zoo officials going. The pavilion would be a meeting place for educational classes, presentations and special occasions. Plans also included an audio-visual system and a wall to play the videos on.

"The position of that building was why we wanted that real estate freed up because it is very centralized to all of our other operational hubs like the entrance and concession area," said Wright.

Council members agreed that while are keeping an open mind about the current project. With some different options, they might be able to see a reduction in the final price.

"The stamp concrete, do we need to put it where the aviary is now? Those are options we need to look at, cedar roof versus a metal roof. Those are some of the alternatives that I think they are going to look at," said Smith.

Council also suggested engineers look into a smaller pavilion design to possibly reduce the price.

A bid packet will now be made and until those numbers come back, it’s a waiting game for both zoo officials and city council.

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