Saturday, July 16, 2005

Gorillas & Garages

So I’m north of the city today, since Half-Price Books was having a warehouse sale. Pickings were slim and the quarters cramped, but coming back, I found the Crusty Buzzard (7221 Greenwood Avenue North) a used book store which had what I was looking for. While there, I passed a woman on the street with a table and a petition, and a sign labled “Gorillas, Yes! Garage No!”

I had to stop and ask. And I was presented with a petition against the Woodland Park Zoo building a large above-ground parking garage and convention center and closing the North Entrance of the Zoo in the process.

My curiosity satisfied, I said, “Thank you very much,” and turned away, not signing her petition.

To my back the woman said, “I guess he likes garages.”

Unfortunately, she did not wait for me to get out of earshot before unleashing her bon mot. I spun and, with a broad smile, said, “Actually, in this case, I do. I’m a zoo member, and one of the most difficult parts of going to zoo is parking. It clogs up all the local streets as well.”

The woman, a little embarrassed that I responded to her rejoinder, mouthed a quiet, “OK”, and turned back to someone who would allow themselves to be confused that a new garage would somehow be a bad thing for the great apes in their recently-renovated (and pretty cool) digs.

So, of course, now I have a new mission – to find out what’s going on here, and report back. Is more parking for our local zoo a Bad Thing, or merely another case of NIMBYism?

More later,

Update: So I did the research, and found out that not only the zoo has a pretty good plan, it also has been extremely responsive to the locals in putting together that plan. The original plan was to put a large underground lot in the south of the park, but after local input, moved above ground and to the west. Then they changed from a bid-build mode to a design-bid-build model after additional concerns. In addition to the lot, they are going to give the zoo workers better offices, create a better/bigger visitor center, and install a vintage carousel donated by the Allens.

None of this has anything to do with the animals. Even in the short time I have been here, Woodland park has been phenominal in bringing the animals out of cages and into more accessible, natural settings.Invoking the animal population to complain about this process is a scam, since a different population entirely is the one concerned about this (namely, those with good views of the park).

I continued down Greenwood after this encounter, and passed the zoo, on the west side, where they're going to put this lot. Traffic was slow from people searching for parking spots on the street, and the line to get into the zoo was about a hundred feet long along the sidewalk outside. So there is a problem, and it sounds like the zoo has a plan for it. I hope they are allowed to proceed.

More later,