Fowler addresses Park Officials - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fowler addresses Park Officials

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August 18. 2004

Albany -- Will a famous Albany native take control of Chehaw's Wild Animal Park? We still don't know the answer to that question.

Animal expert Jim Fowler says he can turn the park into a world class exhibit. He talked more with park leaders about his plan but they're not convinced.

Whether famed Wild Life expert Jim Fowler will be allowed to lease the animal section of the Parks at Chewhaw is still in Limbo. Wednesday the Park Authority met with Fowler to get more details about his proposal.

City Commissioner Bo Dorough voiced his opposition to Fowler's involvement.

"My intention for attending the authority meeting today was to remind them how far they have come in the last 15 years and I see no justification to turn over a public park to a private development," says Dorough.

Concern could be read on the faces of many members of the Park Authority. Even with Fowler providing some general answers there still were major questions about funding, current employees and what Fowler's involvement means in the control of the park.

"We need to make sure the money part works and that people who have been working here 20 years don't have to worry about their lively hood when they have been working and doing a good job too," says Bruce Smith.

Both sides agree that bad communication has delayed a decision. Authority members say Fowler hasn't provided them enough information while Fowler disagrees with critics who say his interests are more about business than bettering the park.

"What I want to do is to have enough exciting things so the people of Albany say I want to go out there. A lot of people tell me that their is nothing to see here and I feel some what responsible because I did the basic lay out for the park in the 70's," says Fowler.  

The two sides pledged that today's meeting will be the start of more communication between them. And as more questions get answered Fowler will soon have the answer to whether he'll be able to bring his version of Wild Kingdom to Albany.

Bo Dourogh says he plan to push the city commission to give the park more than six million dollars in sales tax revenue so the Park can expand without private developers.

posted at 6:36PM by scott.hunter@walb.com