Tim Steller’s Opinion: City Council Rescues Tucson Zoo From Public Resentment On Local News

It was an absurd claim. Of course, as is typical, the city had included in the contract terms for the termination or suspension of the contracts with the designers and the leading construction company. Prosecutor Mike Rankin set out the terms and costs at Tuesday’s meeting.

But Burgess was ambitious and didn’t leave it there. He called on Romero individually for backing the zoo’s master plan in 2018, warning that “state audits and litigation” would result from a hiatus.

“Don’t let Pathway to Asia become the next Rio Nuevo debacle,” he wrote.

Not only did it exceed the limits of the comparison, but it also performed an erroneous comparison. The better comparison than Rio Nuevo for this project is the Tucson Convention Center.

It’s another case of powers trying to get a project through despite a wave of opposition. The result, if expansion continued without a break, would hurt the zoo for many years to come.

The city would suffer too. The tax paid on enlargement was passed with just 633 votes, which is a margin of less than 1%. The vote says “Fund capital improvements, operations and maintenance at Gene Reid Park Zoo and give reserved school groups free entry to the zoo.”

It said nothing about expansion, especially not into an area that many Tucsonans cherish, a rare hill with mature trees overlooking a pond filled with waterfowl.


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