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Thompson Park pavilion taking shape

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The much-awaited new pavilion is taking shape at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park.

Work crews began putting together the $255,000 pavilion at the site of the old aviary, which was torn down to make room for the new facility. It will be used for events such as classes, presentations and private parties.

“It’s starting to look like something,” said City Engineer Kurt W. Hauk, while looking at the project’s progress Wednesday afternoon.

If all goes well, the pre-engineered, 50-by-50-foot, cross-shaped metal pavilion should be finished by the end of the month, depending on the weather. The pavilion will get its debut at the Aug. 10 Brew at the Zoo event, zoo Executive Director John T. Wright said.

“We use the event as our rollout,” he said.

The city will honor the late Mayor Karl R. Burns by naming the pavilion after him. City officials are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the occasion.

On Wednesday, work crews from D.E.W. Builders — the Adams Center general contractor in charge of the project — arrived at the zoo at 5:30 a.m. to install underground utilities around the main building, just so they would not interfere with zoo patrons, Mr. Wright said.

“They’ve been real great to work with,” he said.

Later in the day, they were using a forklift and other equipment to install metal columns that will become the pavilion’s frame. Once all of that is up, workers will put in the concrete slab floor and install the light brown cedar-shake roof.

But the zoo and the city still must work out the details on the type of furniture and audio-visual equipment that will be used, Mr. Wright said, adding he envisions getting bleachers and other items that can be rolled in and out as needed.

The pavilion will be similar to the one installed last year at the J.B. Wise parking lot north of Public Square.

It was about four years ago that the Thompson Park Conservancy, the group that runs the zoo, first approached the city about tearing down the aviary. The conservancy first suggested getting rid of the aviary and replacing it with a $20,000 to $30,000 pavilion. The City Council, however, balked at demolishing the 30-year-old aviary, contending it was an iconic figure.

The project subsequently went through a series of major changes during the past four years.

Last summer, the council scrapped a far more intricate design for an indoor educational facility because its projected cost had risen to more than $1 million.

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