Friday, April 10, 2020

Voters to decide whether to increase funding for Potter Park Zoo on March 10

February 26, 2020
<p>Potter Park Zoo, located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing, MI. Photo by: Vikram Mandelia</p>

Potter Park Zoo, located at 1301 S. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing, MI. Photo by: Vikram Mandelia

East Lansing voters will decide whether or not to increase funding of Potter Park in the March 10 primary election. A ballot question would increase the amount of tax money going towards Potter Park if voters support it.

Potter Park Zoological Society Executive Director Amy Morris-Hall is optimistic voters will vote yes, saying she's heard positive feedback from members of the community.

"We're very fortunate that we have a favorable reputation in the community," Morris-Hall said.

Potter Park has earned their reputation in part by interacting with the people of East Lansing through community events.

Once a month, the zoo allows people with disabilities and their families in for free for their FALCONERS program. There are special events promoting wildlife education, arts and crafts and allowing for hands-on experience with the animals at FALCONERS events.

Additionally, Potter Park's Zoo in Your Neighborhood program takes animals to local entities such as libraries and community centers to interact with the public.

Morris-Hall said Potter Park's current funding pays for day-to-day operations, but the zoo desperately needs upgrades.

"The list could go on forever," Morris-Hall said.

Among improvements needed, the penguin pool needs major repair, the discovery center needs a new electrical heating and cooling system and the zoo pathways need to be redone.

"We want to be inclusive to all," Morris-Hall said. "We have families with kids in strollers, we have people in wheelchairs, we have people with walkers and these paths are terrible."

Morris-Hall couldn't say for sure if parts of the zoo would be closed if the ballot question doesn't pass.

"I really don't know the answer to that (if parts of the zoo would close). It would definitely change how we operate. It would slow the progress for the zoo."

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