Sunday, May 9, 2010
Building on the Success of Mesker Park Zoo & Improving Mesker Drive
Over the past 5 years, the growth of Mesker Park Zoo has been phenomenal. A $15 million tropical rainforest called Amazonia has been constructed as well as a new entrance to the park. The Zoo seems pretty good right now so what should the zoo focus on moving forward?
Luckily, the zoo has an advantage over many other zoos in the fact that it has room to grow. There are very few houses between the zoo and Diamond Ave so the zoo basically has unlimited potential for growth. Why should the zoo take over that much land?
It seems like a pretty logical move, in my opinion, to expand all the way to Diamond Ave. With the zoo currenty being roughly 50 acres or so, it would be able to compete with the zoos in Cincinnati and San Diego who have land as large as 107 acres. Evansville would arguable be home to not only one of the greatest zoos in the Midwest but the whole U.S as well.
The expansion to Diamond Ave would also allow for the zoo to do each of the following...
- Bring in polar bears
- Build an even bigger rain forest
- Build a gondola sky tram ( The same as the one I proposed for downtown in an earlier post) that would go over an African Safari
- Set up a nature preserve for the trees and birds currently on the lot
I can't get over how fast Mesker Park Zoo has progressed over the last few years and I hope they will consider expanding again while they have all of this positive momentum. I do understand that money is tight since they just had to spend $15 + million on this latest expansion, but if they take things one at a time and plan effectively they will get there.
Another Mesker Park Zoo expansion is not the only vision I have for Mesker Dr. Years ago, there use to be a carnival at what is now a shelter house across the street from the entrance to the zoo. Believe it or not, it had just about anything you could imagine and it attracted children from all over. Unfortunately, it shut down and most of the rides are in Florida now.
At first, I considered proposing to put another Coney Island style permanent carnival there but have reconsidered that due to the fact that I believe a Coney Island style carnival would be served being located next to garvin park, Pigeon Creek, and hopefully some more youth baseball fields. So what would I do with the shelter house and additional land?
It is my belief that whatever is placed on that land should A. Keep the historical shelter house intact & B. Focus on children. With that in mind, I propose building a massive maze similar to the one that use to be up by French Lick and the one made out of trees in New Harmony. The shelter house would serve as the entrance with the maze taking up the rest of the land behind it. It would be relatively cheap to build and it would replace the maze in French Lick that has unfortunately been removed.
I also believe that if a downtown amphitheatre is ever built like the one I proposed earlier, the current Mesker Amphitheatre should be converted to a SeaWorld like dolphin show for the zoo.
It would be nice to drive up Mesker Park Drive and see the greatest zoo in America on my right and the biggest children's maze to my left with the old shelter house still intact. Now that would be awesome!