Administrative Red Tape Cut For Metrozoo Aviary Rehab
By Victor Cruz
With $4.2 million in federal and state funds hanging in the balance the County Commission Tuesday approved a waiver of administrative procedures to fast-track the redevelopment of the Miami Metrozoo aviary.
Zoo officials say the aviary to be called "Wings of Asia" in its new incarnation is the last property that is still in need of repairs after being damaged by Hurricane Andrew.
By waving competitive bids, bid protest procedures and independent inspector general requirements, officials at the Miami-Dade Park & Recreation Department who run the zoo said they hope to meet a September 2002 "drop-dead date."
Federal Emergency Management Agency money amounting to $2.5 million will cease to be available unless substantial construction is under way by that time, and a $1.7 million grant from the Florida Department of Community Affairs will be lost unless it is spent by this September, said Vivian Donnell Rodriguez, parks director.
"That’s one-third of the funding and without it, the project couldn’t happen at all," she said.
The zoo will also rely on $2 million promised by the county, $2.97 million in park bonds and a $4.3 million contribution from the South Florida Zoological Society.
The total aviary project will cost $13.5 million and will highlight the theme of birds as living dinosaurs. The 100,000-square-foot facility would feature three habitats: lowlands, wetlands and a tree canopy area, says Maggie L. Tawil, Miami-Dade Parks chief of project management division.
The aviary is to include a plaza for visitors to stroll, be equipped with air-conditioned areas and include an underwater viewing area, says Charles G. Mayes, architect for the Portico Group, which in partnership with Spillis Candela & Partners is designing the aviary.
"This will be the first major new exhibit" since Hurricane Andrew, said Mr. Mayes, who presented the commission with a scaled-down design of the project.