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Zoo aviary demolition will begin

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You can soon say goodbye to the old aviary at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk said Monday night that he thinks demolition of the former iconic structure could start Wednesday. It will probably take just one day to tear the 30-year-old structure down, he said.

The only thing holding up the work?

D.E.W. Builders — the Adams Center general contractor that will replace the aviary with a new pavilion — has to get a subcontractor on the zoo site to remove some shingles that contain asbestos. That abatement will take just a few hours, and then D.E.W. Builders can start taking down the A-frame, mostly metal structure, Mr. Hauk said.

“Once that’s removed, they’ll be ready to roll,” he told the Watertown City Council on Monday night.

On Friday, he got word that D.E.W. Builders received environmental insurance that would allow the general contractor to begin work on the $255,000 pavilion.

In addition to that news, D.E.W. Builders received a building permit from the city’s Code Enforcement office, Mr. Hauk said.

It was nearly four years ago that the Thompson Park Conservancy, the group that runs the zoo, first approached the city about tearing down the aviary.

The city will honor the late Mayor Karl R. Burns by naming the pavilion after him. The pavilion will be used for events such as classes, presentations and private parties.

The contractor will supply the city with a pre-engineered, 50-by-50-foot cross-shaped metal pavilion. The pavilion will be similar to the one installed last year at the J.B. Wise parking lot north of Public Square.

The project has gone through a series of major changes during the past four years.

Last summer, the council scrapped a far more intricate design for an indoor educational facility because its projected cost had risen to more than $1 million.

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