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Zoo neighbors oppose parking lot expansion plans

John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids needs more parking for visitors, but nearby residents don’t want to lose neighborhood green space to a parking lot. The Kent county Commissioners will decide how to proceed.

The Commissioners are not going to vote on the zoo’s plan to convert part of john ball park into parking spaces until finance and physical resources Vice Chairman Stephen Wooden says there is one more public hearing

“At least have one final public engagement session”

The Zoo is a victim of its own success, an ever growing number of visitors but nowhere to park. Zoo CEO Peter Darienzo says they hear it all the time

“Our number one complaint from zoo guests is lack of parking.”

The Zoo proposes paving over some of the grass in john ball park for parking, a plan opposed by some neighbors like Jenna Lyons

“And it is disappointing to know that park might not be enjoyed if we are paving over it for parking.”

But visitors already park on the lawn when there are no open spaces at the zoo. Shawn Nolan from nearby sacred heart academy thinks the zoo’s parking, green space and traffic flow redesign is a safety upgrade

“The changes will help to reduce car usage in the current green space.”

The county finance and physical resources postponed their vote on the plan until next month, commissioner wooden says it gives the zoo time for another meeting with the public.

“Just to make sure everyone understands the rationale behind your decision.”

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