The planned expansion of the Tucson Zoo into a park is causing controversy »Albuquerque Journal

TUCSON, Arizona – The Mayor of Tucson calls for a hiatus from a long-planned multi-million dollar expansion of Reid Park Zoo amid controversial discussions that parking space for new zoo facilities could be lost.

Tucson voters approved funding for the project in 2017, and construction is slated to begin in the spring. However, Mayor Regina Romero said the break should be suspended as residents’ concerns were not addressed.

The two main issues are the expected loss of an “estimated area” within the park and whether the promoters were transparent before the city’s voters approved a VAT hike for the project in 2017 on the planned improvements and expansions to the zoo, Romero said.

“The electoral language approved by voters in 2017 was” to fund capital improvements, operations and maintenance “and did not mention any expansion,” Romero said.

………………………………………….. …………..

Romero hopes that there can be talks that create “common ground” and a solution that is acceptable to all.

Thousands of people have signed a petition against the proposed 3.5-acre extension to use green spaces in the public park, including a duck pond, and dozens gathered in the park on Feb.28 to protest.

“I hear from people who had their wedding right there, graduation photos right there, met their husbands,” said Manon Getsi, one of the protesters.

Alderman Steve Kozachik denied there wasn’t enough public input and said the project should move forward.

Romero, then a councilor, requested approval in 2018 of the plan, which had developed during several public meetings in the year after the sales tax vote, Kozachik said.

Recent concerns about the project were not ignored, and meetings were held aimed at “finding a win-win way forward,” Kozachik said.

Millions of dollars already spent on the project “will be wasted if we change course,” and the city’s own credibility will be called into question, he said.

Unless there are superior solutions that incorporate the concepts of the expansion project, “we need to move forward in that direction,” Kozachik said.

Councilor Paul Cunningham said he supported Romero’s call.

“We need to talk as a community about what the best options are,” said Cunningham.

The Reid Park Zoological Society said it was “surprised and deeply disappointed” by Romero’s call for hiatus.

“From the very beginning of our work on improving the zoo, and in particular this project, the Society of Zoology has meticulously followed Tucson City’s communications protocols and instructions and made plans for the project, including the area they approved,” the group said in statement.

The city council is expected to review the project on Tuesday.

Comments are closed.