60: Bear Hollow Wildlife Trail Renovation

Project Description from submission form

The peaceful, shaded pathways of Bear Hollow Zoo in Memorial Park offer visitors from the Athens region and beyond an opportunity to learn about local wildlife. For 33 years the mission of Bear Hollow Zoo has been to help the community understand our place in and reliance upon natural systems through interpretative education and the exhibit of Georgia native wildlife. The zoo is home to bears, bobcats, otters, owls, and reptiles that are not releasable back into the wild. They live out their lives as educational ambassadors to thousands of visitors from our schools and community.

 In 2017 Athens-Clarke County (ACC) residents outlined their vision for Bear Hollow as part of the Memorial Park Master Plan. Our proposal has adopted most of the components including a new reptile house and animal nutrition building, restrooms, accessible pathways, new animal exhibits, an educational garden, and the infrastructure necessary to support it. These updates would benefit the community through enhanced visitor experiences that are more educational and accessible. New infrastructure would ensure wise use of ACC water and utility resources and significantly improve operations efficiency. Consulting with zoo planning experts and prioritizing environmentally friendly building practices will enhance stewardship of the environment and longevity for the finished product. 

This project includes the following specific zoo improvements as outlined in Plan View #4 (attached): 1) new maintenance/emergency vehicle gate; 3) new program animal holding area; 6) new Reptile House*; 7) new exhibits; 8) accessible pedestrian path; 9) emergency ATV/vehicle access; 10) new wetland garden exhibit; 11) staff access separate from visitor path; 12) new small plaza at back of zoo; 13) replace current barn with new building for animal nutrition, storage, and public restrooms; 14) new storage shed; 15) new animal quarantine buildings; and 16) new perimeter fence. This project also addresses several goals of Envision Athens, including creating dynamic, fun, and functional places.

*The Master Plan recommends that zoo improvements 2) renovate existing Operations building, 4) new gatehouse, and 5) new entrance plaza be coupled with pool area renovations, so they are not included in this project. However, we propose to incorporate some of their functions (e.g., two accessible restrooms, a small gift shop, an office) in the new reptile house at the front of the zoo until the gatehouse can be built.

Estimated Cost:  
SPLOST 2020 Budget
$13,614,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact
$89,000
Alternate Project Budget
$12,947,000
Alternate Estimated Annual Operating Impact
No change

Project Presentation Video

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