Committee rejects zoo’s expansion plan

Posted By: Sarah Fili

The expansion plans for the Lincoln Children’s Zoo have hit a roadblock. The city’s Urban Planning Committee rejected their plan for growth.

Right now, the goal is to turn the current parking lot into exhibits and dining and move guest parking across ‘A’ street to the south, with a pedestrian overpass to the zoo.

"We have limited space and so we’re trying to figure out the best most logical most successful plan for our parking because parking is very important for our guests to come to the zoo and most importantly to come to the zoo safely,” John Chapo, CEO of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo.

The committee raised issue with the parking being so far away. The zoo sits in what’s called the Antelope Triangle, which includes the rose garden, the retired teachers’ fountain, and the parks and recreation administration building.

The committee wants the city to move the administration building, allowing the zoo to expand into that space. Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson says they’d be willing to move it, but that would come at a cost.

Chapo says they’re working to make sure everyone’s voice is heard- especially those in the neighborhood surrounding the triangle.

"We’ve been working with all the city administration and departments for several years to make certain that what’s finally decided on is going to be the best for our community," he said.

"Lincoln Children’s Zoo wants what’s best for our community and what’s best for our zoo. It’s what we’ve done for over 50 years."

They’ve already raised 11 of the 15 million dollars needed for the project. Some say they may be too far along in the process for major changes. Mayor Beutler has the final say on the plan.

The zoo has been in its current place for 51 years. This expansion will grow it from nine acres to about fourteen.