Plans for what the revamped Lake Superior Zoo could look like have been unveiled – and now the city wants people to share their thoughts on the proposals.
That basic concept would make the zoo a little smaller – about 9.36 acres – which is about the size of St. Paul's Como Park Zoo, and the remaining land (about 9 acres) would go to surrounding Fairmount Park. (Tuesday's presentation also laid out plans for the park. See those here.)
The main differences in the plans for the zoo involve what animals will be included, locations of exhibits, and the type of up-close encounters and educational experiences visitors will have with animals. (Click here to see a layout of each plan.)
All the plans hope to make the zoo a tourist destination again, and would all cost about the same – an estimated $15 million.
Public asked to comment
City officials are asking the public to comment on the plans before Jan. 27 (click here to fill out the survey), and then planners will use the public's input to put together a master plan for the project, WDIO reports.
"We're looking to see what resonates with people – what they like, what they don't like – and in the end we'll just try to synthesize all three of them into one plan," Patrick Janikowski, the principal architect, told KBJR.
That master plan will be presented to the parks commission in early February and the city council later in February, the project's website says. The parks commission and the city council will vote on the final plan in March.
The decision to re-do the city-subsidized zoo comes after years of financial problems, particularly since it was damaged by floodwaters in 2012. That led to discussions about whether the site should continue to house animals at all, before officials opted instead to shrink the size of the zoo.
Plans are getting mixed reviews
So far, the concepts are getting mixed reviews.
"I think – for the most part – people feel pretty positively about it. Those who like the zoo like that we are re-committing to it,” Jim Filby Williams, with the city of Duluth, told FOX 21.
More than 40 people attended Tuesday night's meeting, the Duluth News Tribune says, and not everyone appreciated the plans. Louise Beyea, who is a veterinarian that does work with the zoo, doesn't think reducing the size of the zoo and increasing non-animal exhibits will please the public.
Others who work with the zoo say the layouts for the three plans – which all move the zoo's animal care center outside of the zoo – would make it challenging for staff to care for the animals, the Duluth News Tribune says.
The next public meeting on the zoo is Feb. 10, a news release says.