Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega forwarded his recommendation for the proposed Reid Park Zoo "Pathways to Asia" expansion to the Mayor and Council for discussion and direction at the May 4, 2021 Study Session Meeting. The Zoo expansion received increased attention as some community members voiced concern about its proposed expansion into existing park features, including an artificial duck pond and Barnum Hill. On March 9, 2021, the Mayor and Council directed a 45 day pause of the Zoo project to explore potential options and gather community input.
The City Manager's recommendation includes relocating the Zoo expansion from its originally proposed site to a section of the park northwest of the Zoo. The recommendation aligns with survey results from the more than 14,000 respondents on eight proposed actions in relation to the Zoo expansion. Following direction from Mayor Regina Romero to find a win-win solution to the issue, the community was asked to rate the different scenarios. Option D proved to be the most neutral response of the eight followed by Options B and C.
Input was also solicitated from a Core Stakeholder Group representing neighborhoods surrounding Reid Park and other community members. After 30 hours of mediated discussion, the Core Stakeholder Group honed in on Options D and G but was unable to come to consensus on a final recommendation. Option G, while a focus of the Core Stakeholder Group, did not score high with the community-wide survey.
In addition to preserving the duck pond and hill, Option D has a low cost impact, and a high likelihood of success. It also provides flexibility in how much open green space versus existing hardscape would be occupied by the final design, a consideration voiced by the Core Stakeholder Group.
The proposal from the City Manager also cites a new, comprehensive Reid Park Master Plan that includes any necessary updates to the 2018 Reid Park Zoo Master plan as a subset to the overall Reid Park Master Plan.
The recommendation to Mayor and Council, survey results, and other background information relating to the proposed Zoo expansion can be found online.