named to redesign plan for zoo, Richmond base
Portico Group has secured the nomination by a county selection committee
to create a new master plan for Metrozoo and the former Richmond Naval
Air Station in South Dade.
which has designed exhibits for zoos across the country, is recommended
for a contract not to exceed $2.07 million to update the zoo's 24-year-old
plan, said Susie Torriente, an assistant to the county manager.
said the company competed against four other developers to land the
commissioners must act on the appointment. They're due to consider
it July 25.
firm will conduct a study," said Howard Gregg, chief of planning
for the Park & Recreation Department and chairman of the master plan
selection committee, "to specify the kinds of outdoor attractions
compatible with the zoo. Examples might be things like a family aquatic
center that would have swimming pools and spray pools for kids. We
would seek private funding and financing to make that possible."
said development plans should begin in September, with a final plan
document for the 740 acres involved expected in April 2001.
to Portico's proposal, the team will focus on small, high-quality
exhibits to surprise and excite people. Representatives suggested
more marketing, specifically adding more signs on the Florida Turnpike
and surrounding roads to make people aware of the zoo's location.
Gregg said the master plan is covered by $12 million in Safe Neighborhood
Park funds approved by voters in 1996 through a bond issue.
Asher, supervisor of planning for Parks & Recreation, said the Safe
Neighborhood Parks bond was specifically to fund a new master plan.
Asher said through both development and reconsideration, the zoo's
old master plan was deemed dated by 1995.
Ekey, executive director of the Zoological Society of Florida, fund-raising
arm for the zoo, said in the '80s attendance averaged 850,000 visitors
a year. Now, 420,000 people come each year, he said.
looking at opportunities for the zoo to take on world-class status
over the next 20 years," Mr. Ekey said. "We're working on
the zoo, but it's better to do it with a plan. The vision is there.
We just need to get it down on paper and get ourselves in synch with
Ekey said the zoo has been undergoing a slow recovery since Hurricane
Andrew wrecked it in 1992.
with 8,000 shade trees, mist sprayers to cool people off, new animals
and fanfares such as Dr. Wilde's World a meerkat exhibit opening
this month Mr. Ekey said the zoo is not yet back in shape.
unfinished aviary, he said, is a symbol that restoration is incomplete.
aviary, however, is well into the design phase, Mr. Ekey said. The
projected opening is 2002 and promises a huge free flight enclosure
and air-conditioned educational center, he said. It will be called
the American Bankers Family Aviary.
Ekey said a master plan will facilitate zoo growth as both a recreational
facility for residents and tourists and as a contributor to wildlife