Pioneer Park Aviary should be kept open

The public outcry in cyberspace has been loud in the days since the City Council voted to close the Aviary.

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It would be a mistake — and incredibly unpopular — to close the Pioneer Park Aviary.

Since the Walla Walla City Council voted 5-2 on Wednesday night to shut down the Aviary, citizens have been sounding off — mostly via social media.

The Council’s decision is being lambasted on Facebook and pummeled in a Union-Bulletin.com poll. As of this morning, with 573 votes cast (the poll generally gets under 100 votes) about 93 percent of respondents disagree with the Council’s decision. Wow!

While this poll is far from scientific, it is nonetheless significant. It is incredibly difficult to get nine out of 10 people to agree on anything.

And a great many of the comments posted on the Internet make it clear folks are disgusted with the approach taken by the Council majority and city government in general.

Instead of marching down Main Street with pitchforks and torches, the people are using iPads and smartphones.

The Council should revisit its decision.

A citizens’ group, Friends of the Pioneer Park Aviary, has been raising money in an effort to cover the annual Aviary expenses of about $55,000. The group has done an admirable job over the past three years, but it’s clear it was becoming more and more difficult to sustain the effort.

Still, the Friends of the Aviary should have been given more time to succeed.

The Council’s decision to pull the plug at this time was made because the Aviary needs a great deal of repair. The Aviary was damaged significantly by storms in 2008. The city has about $190,000 from insurance set aside to make repairs.

However, the estimates to properly fix the Aviary are far higher. To cover the larger of the two ponds would be $375,000 and the smaller about $285,000.

The city doesn’t want to put a lot of money into the Aviary if it might close in a few years.

However, the Aviary has been limping along since 2008 in a satisfactory manner. Perhaps there is a way to alter the plans to trim the costs of the projects.

The Friends of the Aviary has said the group is not giving up. City officials should be working with those eager citizens to come up with a long-term solution, perhaps a public-private partnership, that will keep the Aviary going.

Most in the Walla Walla Valley see the Aviary as part of the charm of Pioneer Park — a package deal.

Yes, the city budget is tight and the tax dollars are spread thin. Still, the recent hike in property taxes and the pay raises at City Hall have people questioning the city’s money woes.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe that $55,000 a year can’t be allocated from an annual general government budget of $24 million.

In the end, the people — the taxpayers — want the Aviary to stay. The Council should find a way for that to happen.

Comments

namvet60 6 months, 1 week ago

Well said and the Council persons that voted for the closing of the Aviary should understand the outcome at the next election.

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Kevconpat 6 months, 1 week ago

Has ever there been a civic treasure worth saving and improving that 90% + are voicing support for it!? The polling is now over 600 UB instant votes. Pay attention Council, for heavens sakes! Stop your madness! Council, do the right thing!l

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fatherof5 6 months, 1 week ago

Heck, I even agree with namvet on this issue. This editorial was well written. The Council needs to revisit their decision.

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oldguyonabike 6 months, 1 week ago

Where are Tourism Walla Walla and the Port of Walla Walla on this issue? The aviary provides an added element to our beautiful Pioneer Park that is an economic stimulus to our region.

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mspinks 6 months, 1 week ago

Throw in the Chamber of Commerce. Go to any of the above websites and there is not one mention of the aviary. I doubt tourists coming to town have a clue there is an aviary in WW that is a must see destination.

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