Proposed project to renovate Walla Walla Aviary makes sense

The public has shown through its donations it supports the Aviary. Soliciting private donations and using insurance funds for the renovation is the right approach.

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When budget troubles threatened to force closure of the Pioneer Park Aviary in late 2010 the community offered support with more than words. Folks opened their wallets.

Donations of $80,000 have been collected, which is still $30,000 short of keeping the Aviary open through 2012, but is nevertheless a clear sign the Aviary is important to the community.

Given that, it make sense for the city to move forward with much needed renovation of the Aviary assuming all of the cash to fund it can be raised through donations.

The cost of the project, to be done in two phases, is estimated at $354,000. That's a lot of money, but a significant amount is already in hand.

The Aviary was damaged in December 2008 when a heavy, wet snow hit the area. The city collected $144,000 from the insurance payment and $16,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.

That leaves a total of $194,000 that must be raised to revamp the facility.

The first phase, estimated at $240,000, would be a complete rebuild of the entire main netting enclosure. The second phase, with a price tag of $114,000, calls for renovating the rearing pen and greenhouse. It also includes a public viewing area in the rearing pen.

It won't be easy to raise the $194,000, but it can be done. The citizens who have gotten behind the Aviary are committed to long-term funding to operate the facility and this overhaul.

The work needs to be done. The netting is in poor shape. A raccoon -- a very clever, sneaky raccoon -- has been getting into the Aviary and eating the birds. The masked critter has, to this point, escaped capture despite a serious effort.

The overhaul should curb this problem as well as other issues.

The Aviary, as evidenced by the public support, is a source of pride and enjoyment to the community. A refurbished facility would garner even more public support and will likely help the fund-raising effort.

This project, funded with private donations, will enhance Pioneer Park and benefit the entire community.

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