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Woodland Park Zoo Proposes Parking Garage

Sam Eaton

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is updating its long-range plan for the first time in 25 years. But tonight’s public hearing on the new proposals promises to be dominated by one issue… parking. KUOW’s Sam Eaton reports.

THE ZOO HAS CREATED A WISH LIST OF POTENTIAL UPGRADES. THERE ARE THE SHELTERED GATHERING PLACES FOR WINTER VISITORS, AN ALL-WEATHER CONSERVATION AND EDUCATION CENTER, AND EVEN A NEW HISTORIC CAROUSEL. BUT THE ONE ITEM THAT’S BEEN GETTING THE MOST ATTENTION, ARE PLANS FOR A NEW 700 TO 1-THOUSAND SPACE PARKING GARAGE. I don’t like it. KAREN BUCK, WHO LIVES IN RAVENNA, IS SPENDING THE AFTERNOON ENJOYING ONE OF THE ZOO’S PERIPHERAL PARKS. SHE SAYS A 50-FOOT TALL PARKING GARAGE WOULD BE A MAJOR EYESORE. I realize that parking at the zoo is a problem but I cannot imagine a 5-story parking garage on the grounds of the zoo. BUCK’S ISSUE FOR THE MOST PART IS AESTHETICS, BUT TALK TO SOMEONE WHO LIVES NEXT TO THE ZOO AND YOU HEAR A DIFFERENT STORY. PHINNEY RIDGE RESIDENT BRUCE MORELAND SAYS THE PROBLEM IS VOLUME. On a typical summer day there’s no parking, all the street parking is taken, it’s difficult to find a spot near your house, which I know is true in other places in the city but here it’s only that way in the summer with the zoo. SOME NEIGHBORS ARE EVEN ADVOCATING FOR ZONED PARKING TO KEEP ZOO TRAFFIC OFF THEIR STREETS... A MOVE ZOO DIRECTOR MIKE WALLER SAYS WOULD HAVE DISASTROUS EFFECTS. We did some estimates on what the impact would be and it would mean that our attendance would drop by 20 to 25 percent because there wouldn’t be parking even in the vicinity, and certainly not on the zoo grounds, and so if that happens the zoo is in deep financial trouble. WALLER SAYS THE GARAGE WOULD BE A WAY TO KEEP ZOO VISITORS ON ZOO GROUNDS AND HELP ACCOMODATE ATTENDANCE, WHICH IS EXPECTED TO GROW BY A QUARTER MILLION PEOPLE BY 2020. BUT THE PROBLEM REMAINING IS HOW TO DESIGN A 750-STALL PARKING STRUCTURE THAT DOESN’T TAKE AWAY FROM THE ZOO’S PARK-LIKE SETTING. CITY COUNCILMEMBER AND PARKS COMMITTEE CHAIR NICK LICATA SAYS THAT’S GOING TO BE A TOUGH BALANCING ACT. We want to provide enough parking so that people who are visiting the zoo do not park in the neighborhood streets, but we don’t want to build so much new parking that we’re attracting more people to the zoo in order to pay for the parking structure. A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE ISSUE BEGINS AT 7:30 TONIGHT AT THE PARKS AND RECREATION BOARDROOM DOWNTOWN. SAM EATON, KUOW, 94.9, PUBLIC RADIO.
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