Lily pond at Naples Zoo to be paved as part of expansion

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Naples artist Paul Arsenault paints the scene of the lily pond of the Naples Zoo on Sunday April 8, 2012. Arsenault is painting the scene in protest of a service road that is planned to be built in the place where the pond is now. Along with the painting, Arsenault had a petition to be signed in hopes to stop the planned road.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Naples artist Paul Arsenault paints the scene of the lily pond of the Naples Zoo on Sunday April 8, 2012. Arsenault is painting the scene in protest of a service road that is planned to be built in the place where the pond is now. Along with the painting, Arsenault had a petition to be signed in hopes to stop the planned road.

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Patrons of the Naples Zoo make their way across the bridge over the lily pond near the zoo to their cars on Friday April 6, 2012. Plans are under way to remove the pond area to make way for a service road.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Patrons of the Naples Zoo make their way across the bridge over the lily pond near the zoo to their cars on Friday April 6, 2012. Plans are under way to remove the pond area to make way for a service road.

The turtles and the koi who live in the lily ponds near the entrance of the Naples Zoo have been put on notice.

They are about to be evicted.

County officials confirmed Friday that the ponds, which are one of the most recognizable parts of the zoo, will be paved over and the bridge removed to provide for the addition of a service road on zoo property.

"The ponds will ultimately become dry retention areas for the road," said County Parks and Recreation Director Barry Williams. "They will go."

The news is distressing to local artist Paul Arsenault, who has painted the lily ponds for years.

"The Naples Zoo experience starts at the pond, which offers a magical transition from the world of concrete to the world of nature," he said in an email. "I have known for a while that changes were scheduled, but I couldn't imagine that one of them would be to get rid of a treasure in order to facilitate a road. Surely planners can be more sensitive and creative in designing this."

Tim Tetzlaff, the director of conservation and communications for the Naples Zoo, confirmed that the ponds would go, but referred all further comment to his brother, David Tetzlaff, the director of the Naples Zoo.

David Tetzlaff could not be reached for comment Friday.

Matt McLean, the president-elect of the Naples Zoo Board of Directors, said the zoo is hoping to keep a section of the eastern portion of the pond open, adding the fish and turtles will be moved to a pond within the zoo near the butterfly garden. But, he said, the project is moving forward.

"Change is uncomfortable for people," McLean said. "The zoo itself is a story of its own success. We have 300,000 people coming through the gate and we have parking problems. It's inefficient. It can be a whole lot better ...The parking situation is going to be corrected with this project."

The project is part of a plan to redo the entrance to the zoo, Williams said. The county is building a parking lot south of the zoo's property in the area that is now overflow parking, which will be used both for zoo parking and for parking for the Gordon River Greenway.

County officials and the zoo amended the lease in 2010 to swap two 6-acre parcels of land that resulted in the development of the lot. The zoo wanted land north of its border for expansion. The county wanted the land at the zoo's southern edge for the parking lot and canoe-kayak launch for the greenway.

As a result, there will be a new entrance road built into the zoo at Fleischmann Road.

Williams said the zoo and the county will save the large tree near the ponds.

Williams said final permitting for the project is expected to be completed by May or June and construction of the road should start in the fall with the parking lot completed in the spring 2013.

Under the first phase of the road, a service road will be built along the north end of the property and the zoo's back operations will be relocated to the north end of the property, paving the way for the county to construct the parking lot on the south end, Williams said.

That work will take out the ponds, he said.

Arsenault, who does not believe the project will solve the zoo's parking problems, said the public needs to get behind keeping the ponds. He hopes to do that at the zoo on Easter Sunday, asking people to sign petitions and taking photos of people on the bridge.

"This is more of an information gathering. I don't want to get militant and use the word protest. The whole problem is a lack of communication and understanding the problem. ... We are losing a jewel in the crown of the zoo," he said.

In addition, Arsenault said he will also have petitions to save the ponds at his gallery, which is located at 764 12th Ave. S.

McLean said while he understands Arsenault's passion, the project is moving forward.

"We have partnered with the county and the greenway people with the project. The permits are close to being finalized and we hope to go into construction this year. We at the zoo are looking forward to it," he said.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 102

2konks2mom writes:

No!! No!! Say it isn't so!! That's the best part of going to the zoo with my grandkids. They just love to feed the carp and turtles in the pond.

InCognitogirl writes:

That is the best part before going into the zoo. If you save the tree, save the pond. It's not necessary to put another road in. What's that song.. They.... To put in a parking lot. Can't remember words but that is horrible. Let the county find something else to do

Nplschick writes:

This is so sad to here this. Unbelievable. KEEP IT AS IS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kish4Commish writes:

As Commissioner I will save the pond.
There must be an endangered species in there
someplace.

bobbrosssr writes:

Standing on the bridge, and watching the koi &the turtles, was always the favorite part of the zoo, for my 26 grandchildren.
Wish there was another way......
We will miss it terribly !

Notahiredblogger writes:

What's more expensive, filling it in and paving over it, or putting a small bridge over it?

beetlejuice writes:

Ya mean no more turtles escaping pond killed on Goodlette Road by passing cars?
What's the fuss?

Here4Now writes:

Yep, let's keep destroying anything good in this town. Maybe Chapter 15 of the Lighthouse Project can feature a piece on the long-forgotten pond that everybody loved, but was paved over to make a parking lot.

srsone writes:

they have parking problems because they have no idea how to park cars....

actioncraft writes:

Another part of our community gone. I do not believe removing the ponds is going to add that many parking spaces. Why do we keep paving over our history. You might as well cut the tree down while you are at it. Put everything on Craigslist. Free Koi, turtles, other exotics and plenty of firewood. Follow the sign to Jungle Larry's; I mean Naples Zoo. Quit destroying everything that is so precious about this community.

artdude writes:

Locking animals in cages isn't bad enough now the zoo, which is a nature???? attraction will destroy nature to be more of an attraction and less about nature....idiots

volpesjr writes:

It was bad enough the original sign could not be replaced. People making the decisions are probably not from here. Rot in hell. I feal old having remorse for the charm taken away from this town. But iam still in my 30s. I should have moved away like the rest of the natives of my generation. I wish I could go to the Swamp Buggy to drink and woman about this....

BigOrangeKitty writes:

We the people PAID for this freaking zoo with our taxes. LISTEN to us!

I'm going to make it a point to go sign that petition.

theabyss writes:

This whole town is losing its identity but hey people will move in to all the new construction then when it gets old the place will turn into a dump... just look east young man, look east!

HAP writes:

Paved another piece of paradise and put up a parking lot. Shame on those that run 'our' Zoo. We did tax ourselves, did we not. Naples Zoo has been special because of it's natural beauty. They've become another money pit and they forgot about what's really important, the wildlife and animals that live there. What about a tarp over the giraffe's heads? They took away all the trees in this area, and they have no where to brave the elements. Shame on you all.

Juxtapose79 writes:

Tim, David, come on! What would your elders say?!!! Both you both would be sent outback with shovels! Think outside of the box, not over the pond. Serious - what would your parents think? I highly doubt they would agree with your plan. It's just not right. Make them proud and do the RIGHT thing!

native_at_heart writes:

I agree about the sign. It was iconic for decades. I find it very ironic that a Zoo, which by definition is a garden or park where animals are kept for showing to the public, is removing/relocating animals in the pond for a concrete garden. They are a 501c3 so apparently their primary interest is providing parking for the cars that carry the people that carry the money and not the first impression those money carrying people will have when visiting the donation center...I mean Zoo.

Ykpk writes:

What a horribly ridiculous and thoughtless decision! Surely some other viable option is available. The pond elicits calming beauty to all who see it; therefore it's value cannot be underestimated. Please rethink this unthinkable action.

JunkYardDog_1 (Inactive) writes:

Is anybody listening to all the resounding NOOOOOOOO's? Might as well build some big box stores to add to the city of Naples new look.

The homogenization of Naples continues, sad.

Johnnymarco49 writes:

Almost all the bloggers are right this time...don't mess with the ponds! We openly agreed to our tax money being used so we all could enjoy the zoo and we pay to get in and spend our money while there. Those who run the zoo will see a change in the money coming in as there will be people mad enough not to return and those county "elected" officials will see a change when your booted out.

Change the ponds-Change the Commissioner

Collier_resident writes:

Leave the pond alone!!!!!!!!

flvsmom writes:

I'm wondering when the last time anyone here actually went to the zoo?

The original NEON sign WAS preserved. It is now located in the Park. To refurbish it after the storm damage and replace it in its' original location was too cost prohibitive. Remember? We already had this discussion when it happened...as a community.

The ponds routinely flood and you can't even get over the bridge on foot. Not to mention the alge blooms or escaped turtles.

In the future if you want to see the koi and turtles you can go inside the park instead of just driving by. You get FREE admission the first Saturday of every month so there is really no excuse.

starrynight writes:

Very bad decision! The pond is such a nice entrance feature for the zoo.

Hangten writes:

Its not just a pond! Its a part of naples! For those of us that grew up here its a landmark. If we don't fight back, soon there will be NOTHING left in this town that we will remember from our childhood.

np writes:

Why? Oh why, is something so very unique and so Floridian( Naples) being destroyed? As perceived, it seems it's easy to plow over with no feeling for beauty. Think Differently! Example, build a bridge over it and camouflage it so it blends in within its unique surroundings. Use imagination to solve problem NOT add another (ugh) problem .

creedfan4lyflds writes:

I can not even believe that someone thought it would be a good idea to pave over the pond to build a service road, or parking lot. This is an absurd decision. Since our tax dollars are at use here, why can't we have a say in this???

babbas writes:

WOW! I should not be shocked, I guess. This is what humans do. They "pave paradise to put up a parking lot". Sad. If they do this, I won't go back.

babbas writes:

I heard they were planning to pave it and sell the small parcel to Chase bank. It will be the Naples Chase Bank Zoo: Do some banking and view some animals!

brown writes:

Put the turtles near the hot-tub at the Wellness Centre...

squall_line writes:

figures. RIP to the Naples I loved.

wrightconnection writes:

It's all about the money. This idea fits right in with everything else in the area. Remember the dunes on the beach just north of Wiggins Pass? Not too many people do. Maybe the zoo can contract Disney World to get some ideas on how to present the zoo in a fake way...at the taxpayers expense.

naples-is-a-sewer writes:

Collier sucks and the entitleds lead the way !! here..people don't count !!

oxmen writes:

Please take a moment to let our Collier County commissioners know how important it is to preserve this natural, welcoming presence to the Zoo and the community. It's unreal the Zoo would even contemplate such a move.

DonnaFiala@colliergov.net
GeorgiaHiller@colliergov.net
TomHenning@colliergov.net
FredCoyle@colliergov.net
JimColetta@colliergov.net

CreFreAg writes:

NO NO reprehensible !!!!!

Anonymous1 writes:

Let there be something beautiful in Naples, and someone will vote to screw it up~~!!

Spock_is_logical writes:

I saw an endangered one eyed spitting white snake their a few days ago.

Ya can't fill it in cause it is shaped like Kim Kardashians butt!

Live long and try a new plan.

NaplesCritic writes:

Why dont they just develop and pave the area they already have or even better yet for the one day a month that they need the additional parking negotiate a deal with the mall to utilize some of their parking garages and transport people over to the zoo. Wait im making to much sense here I would never make it in this small town political system. Obviously some engineer who knows someone is seeking a kick back and pitching this idiotic idea. This whole thing sticks worse than the zoo itself.

jvic47 writes:

"You don't know what you've got till its gone,You pave paradise and put up a parking lot". The words to that song still ring true today!

mary123 writes:

Thank you Katherine Albers for your sensitive article and Naples Daily News for putting this as the lead story on the front page today. Thank you Paul Arsenault for your impassioned plea to save the pond, bridge and beautiful setting. There must be a better way to build a parking lot without destroying this treasured spot. Let's find it and do it!

blueblueblue writes:

in response to Damyankee:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And so are you if you also know who sang it.

blueblueblue writes:

What a sickening decision made by some idiots who don't have a clue what real paradise is.
I will sign anything against this moronic decision!
Naples is turning into Chicago!

DinNaples writes:

So, who's the _____ who thought this was a good idea?

I think this plan should change before people start demanding resignations.

raspberryberet writes:

Here we go again. Greed, greed, and more greed.

DinNaples writes:

By the way, most of the snowbirds have gone back. You are dealing with the voters now.

blueblueblue writes:

Well, let's get ALL of our kids, friends, neighbors, etc. to go there on Sunday and sign the petition!
Blogging isnt enough, lets DO something!

np writes:

... and write to the commissioners , re, Oxman's info above .

Tarastomsgirl writes:

in response to wrightconnection:

It's all about the money. This idea fits right in with everything else in the area. Remember the dunes on the beach just north of Wiggins Pass? Not too many people do. Maybe the zoo can contract Disney World to get some ideas on how to present the zoo in a fake way...at the taxpayers expense.

omg i can remember my father taking us 4-wheeling in his jeep there a child in the 80's.. its highrises now :(

naplesnancy#215304 writes:

The current entrance is charming and beautiful. It is a peaceful transition into the zoo. Please reconsider. (And, even when I am not going to the zoo, I enjoy the pond and lillies from the road, as I pass by.)

np writes:

Question here-Is this project to destroy a Zoo landmark, a stage of the 15-20 year Masterplan developed for Zoo back in 2008? I don't see it.

swfl_ff writes:

I too can't believe they would even consider taking out that pond. Why must we always feel that we have to re-invent the wheel around here. There is so little left of what Naples use to be like and pond brings back a lot of memories for people here.

LEAVE IT ALONE!

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