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Watertown City Council expects zoo pavilion bids next month

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City officials should know in early March exactly how much the planned pavilion will cost at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

Bids will be opened March 9 for the open-air pavilion that would replace the zoo’s little-used aviary.

In January, Watertown City Council members learned the project’s cost was going to escalate to $435,000. Despite that news, they informally agreed to begin accepting bids. The Engineering Office has been advertising in local and trade publications for contractors to bid on the project.

City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk hopes the bids will come in at a good price because the opening is early in the contracting season.

“We’re hoping for some good numbers because of the timing,” he said.

The project includes tearing down the aviary, installing a concrete slab and supplying the city with a pre-engineered 50-by-50-foot cross-shaped metal pavilion. The pavilion would be similar to the one installed at the J.B. Wise parking lot last year.

Construction is still slated for early spring.

To cut costs, city officials will look at three alternate bids: a cedar-shake roof, stone veneer columns and a stamped, brick-like slab, Mr. Hauk said.

If those bids come in high, the city would eliminate those features from the project, saving an estimated $72,680.

It would cost $202,000 for the pavilion structure. The structure’s amount has jumped from the $170,000 it cost for the J.B. Wise parking lot pavilion.

The zoo project would also include landscaping, and an audio-visual system and a wall to accommodate that system. It would be used for events such as classes, presentations and private parties.

The project has gone through a series of major changes since the Thompson Park Conservancy, the group that runs the zoo, first approached the city in 2009 about tearing down the aviary. Last summer, council members scrapped an indoor educational facility because its projected cost had risen to more than $1 million.

City Council members initially balked at demolishing the 30-year-old aviary, describing it as an iconic structure.

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