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Disclosure at heart of Zoo Duck Pond dispute

Opponents say city did not disclose plan
Zoo plan pic.png
Posted at 7:54 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 21:54:32-05

TUCSON, Ariz (KGUN) — Some Tucsonans are angry that plans to expand the Reid Park Zoo would replace a beloved duck pond with a tiger habitat ---and expand the zoo to move the area inside the zoo’s boundaries. Opponents say they were not informed of the plans, but city officials say they were.

People love the duck pond next to Barnum Hill and the tall old trees that create a shady spot in the Tucson heat.

But the plan for the Reid Park Zoo calls for making the land part of the zoo, and using most of it for a tiger habitat.

In 2017 voters approved a small jump in the city sales tax to improve the zoo but people who want to preserve the duck pond say they didn’t know an expansion would take in the pond until construction fencing went up this past November.

Manon Getsi is Co-Chair of the group, Save the Heart of Reid Park. She says, “They didn't announce in the meeting that Barnum Hill was being considered to be taken in any of the news sources we can find any on Steve K’s (Councilmember Steve Kozachik’s) newsletters, you know if this was, if, if just a phrase was put in anywhere in any of these places, somebody would have caught on before. We caught onto it by mistake after they put the fence around the South duck pond.”

Nancy Kluge, CEO of The Reid Park Zoological Society says it did make it clear plans called for transforming Barnum Hill and the pond into an enclosed part of the Zoo.

“And what makes me feel good that we did outreaches and that we did have have some objection. I think when we counted up our comments we had 8% of people that objected to that part of the part. So we, we knew that now that there would be some objections to it, but overwhelmingly I'm hearing a lot of support for it.”

The Zoological Society says as a compromise the city has offered to create a new duck pond but opponents say it would be in a less desirable spot and would need many years to develop the tall trees and other features that make the current pond attractive.

Now opponents have complained to the State Attorney General that the Tucson City Council’s vote on the zoo plan broke the Open Meetings Law by not disclosing the full plan. The City says it did live up to the law but if the Attorney General rules against the city it could reverse the vote approving the changes.