NDN Reporter Katherine Albers' tweets
Peace is at hand. Or compromise, at the very least.
1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples, FL
On Tuesday, Collier County commissioners will discuss whether to approve an alternative to a controversial plan to pave over the lily pond at the entrance to the Naples Zoo. The paving is part of a planned parking expansion.
But going into the meeting, zoo officials, county officials and a group of citizens working to save the pond all seem to be supporting the same alternative — signaling the possibility of a harmonious end to what had become a rancorous debate.
The compromise would require paving over part of the pond to accommodate a service road, but would add a second pond just to the north.
"This alternative preserves the fact that the historic lily pond image will be seen from Goodlette-Frank Road," said Corey Cabral, a member of the Nehrling Fleischmann Preservation Committee, which is leading the charge to save the pond.
The committee wants eight conditions placed on the approval of what is being called Alternative D, including placing lilies, koi fish and turtles back into the pond; and assurance that a new road north will not require removal of Nehrling trees.
David Tetzlaff, executive director of the Naples Zoo, said the zoo has not agreed to those conditions, but the zoo's board is discussing them.
"I don't know if we should all say, 'Yahoo, we have a compromise,'" he said. "These just came out (Wednesday) night. The board hasn't had a chance to discuss it."
Tetzlaff said the demands seem reasonable and some of the things, including a landscape buffer, would have been done regardless.
The county is planning to put a parking lot on the south end of the zoo property, which would connect to a kayak launch for the Gordon River Greenway. To accommodate trucks making deliveries, a service road was planned that would require paving the pond.
That drew the outrage of local artist Paul Arsenault and others who said it would be paving over a historic treasure.
After Arsenault took his complaints public, a group of interested stakeholders — including Arsenault, zoo officials, county officials and supporters of the Gordon River Greenway — came up with up five alternatives to the current design.
Parks and Recreation Director Barry Williams is recommending the commissioners approve one of two alternatives, B and D, which would allow for maintaining the stormwater ponds and the current road design. Those alternatives are also supported by the Naples Zoo.
"We think these alternatives are better than the current plan," said Matt McLean, the president-elect of the Naples Zoo board of directors. "And they are the best alternatives from a public health and safety standpoint."
The following are the alternatives for the pond, and the additional cost — which will be split 50/50 between the county and the zoo.
Alternative A: As permitted
What: This proposal would put a road over the current pond to connect the new parking lot and entrance to the Naples Zoo's offices, which are being moved to the north end of the property.
Cost: Keeping the project as permitted would have no additional cost.
Alternative B: Retain most of the pond, keep the entrance as permitted
What: This proposal would keep the pond, but it would alter it to accommodate some road. The entrance to the Naples Zoo would stay at the intersection of Goodlette-Frank road and Fleischmann Boulevard.
Cost: The additional cost would run between $135,000 and $190,000.
Alternative C: Zoo patron entry through the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's entrance with a signal on Goodlette-Frank Road.
What: This option would have the Naples Zoo entrance at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida's new entrance to the south. The signal at Lake Park Elementary School would be moved north to accommodate the new entrance. The maintenance entrance would be through the zoo's current entrance at the intersection of Goodlette-Frank Road and Fleischmann Boulevard.
Cost: The additional cost would run between $515,000 and $690,000 and would require an additional investment of $20,000 in the future to replace the bridge over the pond.
Additional information: The Collier County School District opposes the moving of the light.
Alternative D: Pave part of the pond, add a second pond and keep the entrance as permitted
What: This alternative would keep the entrance to the zoo off Fleischmann Boulevard, but would add water to an area that is currently dry, making a second pond. Part of the original pond would be paved over to accommodate a road.
Cost: The additional cost would run between $260,000 and $360,000.
Alternative E: Move the maintenance entrance north, move the zoo patron entrance through the Conservancy of Naples.
What: This alternative, similar to Alternative C, would move the zoo entrance to the Conservancy's new entrance. The signal at Lake Park Elementary School would be moved north. A maintenance entrance would be built north of the current entrance.
Cost: The estimated additional cost is between $625,000 and $830,000 making it the most expensive of the alternatives.
Alternative F: Zoo patron access via southbound Goodlette-Frank Road, directional left hand turn through the Conservancy.
What: This alternative would not require a signal and would have a limited effect on the pond.
Cost: The additional cost is estimated to be between $100,000 and $125,000.