In 1982-83 when the Lioness Club was seeking donations to repair the bird cages at Pioneer Park my husband, Keith Soper, a city councilman at the time, volunteered to contact some local attorneys to see if there was an estate that might possibly fund the rebuilding of the Aviary.
He was successful through the help of H.H. “Dutch” Hayner, Fred Niemi and Mark Johnson. They were not only able to have new cages built, but a net was placed over the top to protect the birds from predators as well. There is a plaque in the park commemorating these civic minded gentlemen for their part in completing this task.
It saddens my heart to think that five City Council members can arbitrarily decide to tear down this landmark, rather than look for ways to fund this well-loved site.
The Council can spend thousands of dollars on expensive signs to tell us they are working for us, when it is rather obvious when a road is torn up. They can reward people with higher salaries after they have retired to increase their retirement benefit.
Did we really need the serpentine sidewalk around Fort Walla Walla Park?
Council member Allen Pomraning, who voted against the Aviary, recently said Council members should be paid more. It is a choice to perform a civic duty; it is not meant to be a full-time job. I am sure that the city can find the funds to continue the upkeep of the Aviary, especially since a lot of it is done by volunteers now.
I want to commend the Friends of the Aviary for the remarkable job it has done collecting funds for the birds. I hope they can look into the possibility of obtaining funding from one or our foundations or from an estate.
I do not know what their plan for an aviary entailed, but I am sure a facility can be planned for well under the $1 million as Mr. Pomraning outlined in his recent letter to the editor.
The Aviary has always been a main attraction at Pioneer Park. It is visited year around. What a better place to take children to see and feed exotic birds other than Portland or Seattle. It has been here since I can remember.
Please keep the Aviary!
Mary L. Soper