The cold, hard facts suggest reducing the size of the Pioneer Park Aviary when rebuilding the facility that’s home to 200 birds of many types and colors.
But the Pioneer Park Aviary project is an emotional one for many in Walla Walla. That should play a role in deciding how to approach the reconstruction of the aging facility.
If the Friends of the Pioneer Park Aviary believe they can raise enough capital to cover the larger of the two Aviary ponds, the Walla Walla City Council should give the citizen organization a chance. To this point the advocates for the Aviary have been able to raise $158,000 to help supplement the $60,000 a year it takes to operate the facility.
About $190,000 has been put aside by the city (garnered from citizen donations and the insurance settlement from 2008’s huge windstorm — to enclose the pond to protect the assortment of birds.
The cash in hand, however, falls short of funding either of the two proposals — one for $375,000 to cover only the larger pond and another to enclose the smaller pond at a cost of $285,000.
The pragmatic approach would be to go with the smaller enclosure. Given that the city would be faced with raising either $95,000 for the smaller pond and $185,000 for the larger pond, it’s logical to fund what is more affordable.
Over the past 30 years, the Aviary has become a destination for a lot of people, particularly parents with young children. It’s a place where folks can view a variety of birds close up in a pleasant, park setting.
Nevertheless, the Aviary is certainly a lower priority than streets and law enforcement, but it does add something special to the already wonderful Pioneer Park.
We see more positives than negatives in going big.
Doing so will mean the number of birds won’t have to be reduced from about 190 to about 125. The cost of maintaining a larger Aviary compared to a smaller facility would be higher, although apparently not significantly higher.
Friends of the Aviary members have been lobbying the City Council to pursue building the larger facility. Trina Judd, a member of the group, said some of the more popular birds — including the swans and peafowl — would also have to be reduced with the smaller design.
“My question would be, how big would the rebuilt aviary need to be for the citizens to continue to find value in it?” Judd asked.
It’s a good one. An aviary with 80 or so birds wouldn’t have the variety or the draw of the current situation.
However, it’s not the only question — nor the biggest.
The critical issue is whether enough money can be raised to build the larger facility and whether the money needed to operate that facility will be available year after year.