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City Council expects cost for zoo’s education center

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City Council members should soon have more definitive cost estimates for converting the former aviary at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park into an education center.

The city’s Engineering Department met Friday with representatives of Bernier, Carr & Associates, Watertown, and the zoo to discuss the final plans for the project.

City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk plans to submit a report to council members, possibly at the May 14 work session, outlining the plans and how much he expects the project will cost. He intends to suggest a series of alternative bids for the project.

“We’ll give them the final report and then let them mull it over,” he said.

Once he gets final figures and an OK from the council, the project will go out to bid, he said. The hope is that the $487,000 in the city budget will pay for the entire project, including furnishings.

He expects that construction will begin in August, so it will not interfere with the zoo’s busy visitors season.

The zoo plans to use the learning center with enough space for about 80 people for education and exhibit space, and a variety of events, including birthday parties and other gatherings.

In November, the City Council said it liked revised plans that architects said they believe will save the city more than $90,000. Those plans include two restrooms, storage space for animals, a vestibule and possibly a small catering area. The A-frame building’s exterior will feature glass, a stone veneer and some other type of translucent material.

Back then, the projected cost was lowered to about $487,000 after council members told the architects to reduce the original cost of $590,000, yet retain the building’s shape.

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