Community effort to keep Aviary deserves support

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The Walla Walla City Council, after the recent public outcry, had an obligation to citizens to find a way to keep the Pioneer Park Aviary open. It made a wise call to embrace the request — with some caveats — of a group of private citizens to take over operation of the Aviary.

It’s clear, following the public uproar (and that word is not exaggeration) of the Council’s decision to shut down the Aviary, the facility is very popular with Valley residents, former area residents and visitors to the city.

“This is probably the best of all possible outcomes,” said Council member Barbara Clark, one of the five Council members who voted to close the Aviary.

The plan, OK’d by a unanimous vote on Wednesday, gives the Friends of the Aviary six months to work out a lease to take over the facility and raise half the money needed to upgrade it.

The city will continue to fund the Aviary for at least 10 months with the hope the citizens’ group raise $185,000 in 180 days — to be combined with the $190,000 already set aside by the city — to fully repair the severe damage by two separate storms in 2008.

This is a solid plan that, if everything comes together, will end the annual drama of whether the Aviary is kept open or eliminated. Stability is needed.

City government should do as much as possible to make this plan come to fruition. Citizens of Walla Walla, as well as all those who enjoy the Aviary (and campaigned to keep it), also have an obligation to help with the effort.

But even if the Friends of the Aviary falls a short of the goal, the city should look for ways to give the group a helping hand.

It’s to the community’s benefit to improve the Aviary and keep it operating at Pioneer Park.

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