The Willow Park Zoo Board has moved closer to taking over the zoo now that the board has become a non-profit organization. Tuesday night the Logan City Council approved a Willow Park Lease agreement and also Management-Asset Transfer agreement.
Willow Park Zoo Board chairman Troy Christensen said he feels good about what has been worked out.
“We recognize that there is a strong responsibility that we have toward the City of Logan as we sit on your land, and with buildings, and to the citizens of Logan City and to the county,” Christensen told the Logan Municipal Council Tuesday. “We want to make sure that it works well. We’re just grateful for the help. We feel like the agreement is very generous.”
Christensen says a new Zoo director has been hired. Troy Cooper has replaced long-time director Rod Wilhelm in that position. The city will provide a small amount of funding to pay the salary for the zoo director.
Logan Mayor Randy Watts wishes the board well and says the city will be helping with more than just the salary of the zoo director.
“We, the city, are not leaving them totally without help,” Watts said on KVNU’s Crosstalk program Wednesday. “We are going to be doing some helping with utilities.
“The buildings, of course, all of the ownership of the properties and the land stays within the city. But we are going to try everything we can in the city to make them successful. But the venture isn’t going to be easy for them. They know that.”
Watts said the city got out of the zoo business because of shrinking resources. Christensen said the board decided to do all it could to save the zoo because of public demand. The zoo also receives money each year from the RAPZ tax and Christensen said as a non-profit organization the board will be able to seek other financial contributions.