New parking lot, new opportunity for Toledo Zoo

Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Lots of new changes could be on the long-term horizon at the Toledo Zoo.

Anthony Wayne Trail is home to a big construction project which could lead to possibilities that aren’t even known yet.

The entrance most people use is on the trail but in a few years, the trail will still be the right road.

The vacant property butting up to the Toledo Zoo on the inbound side of the Anthony Wayne trail is surrounded, too, by neighborhoods.

“You could hear them cutting down the trees and they were bulldozing them. It was a big racket,” said Bill Furfaro, a Zoo neighbor.

Furfaro remembers when crews started taking down trees. In its past life, this property housed a creosote plant for railroad ties. It’s now considered a brownfield that you can’t develop commercially, but the Toledo Zoo saw an opportunity.

“We’re always looking for opportunities where we could potentially expand the zoo but we couldn’t quite figure out how we could make that piece of property useful,” said Jeff Sailer, Toledo Zoo CEO and executive director.

Zoo officials will create a parking lot here, with approval from the Ohio EPA that lot will cap the ground and make it useable. While construction is very active, this is part of a long-term plan for the entire zoo itself.

“It unlocks the potential of the zoo for generations to come. It gives you opportunities to do other things,” said Sailer.

Which Sailer said could allow the current trail side parking lot to become exhibit space in the future maybe 10-15 years down the line and beyond.

‘It’s not even something I can really say more than imagination. It’ll be more animal exhibits. The problem is anytime you say you want to do something new you’re stuck with what it’s going to cost and you don’t know what it’s going to cost until you design it,” said Sailer.

“Now with this gone and all open these winds are going to come howling across through the neighborhood with snow ice, rain whatever,” said Furfaro.

Not everyone is happy with the parking plans. The lot could be done as early as November and it’ll include all new landscaping and wetlands.

“There is one positive there are a lot of great sunsets now,” said Furfaro.

Sailer said the new lot will necessitate a new entrance which he says is planned to be in the same design on the WPA project buildings inside the zoo.

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