Sales tax money need for park master plan - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sales tax money need for park master plan

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August 24, 2004

Albany- The newest exhibit at Chehaw gives you a great look at an animal from Madagascar.

As fascinating as the red-ruffed lemur may be, park and city officials know they must use the entire park to bring in more people and make more money. So the park's director is telling city commissioners how the one cent sales tax could help.

"The $6 million is critical to the success of the park. Some of the higher priority things would be the things that would help us generate revenue for the park," said Park Director Doug Porter.

Wildlife expert Jim Fowler says master plans look good on paper. But his team of experts would not need sales tax money to make the park work.

"If we take this on, the risk is our risk. If we don't produce, our reputation is sort of destroyed," he said. "And I wouldn't have gone into this if I didn't think we could build something there that would be successful."

Fowler is still trying to convince the Chehaw Authority to allow his group to lease the wild animal park.

The master plan would improve not just the zoo, but also campgrounds and infrastructure and could link the park with downtown redevelopment.

"If we're able to rent bicycles out of the park and people who are camping out there could hop on a couple of bikes that they rent from us and come down to the Riverquarium I mean how cool is that?" Porter said.

People who care about the park just want to do whatever it takes to bring people in and maintain this kind of environment for the animals.

posted at 11:16 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com