Representatives of the Detroit Zoo are in the “very early stages” of deciding where to build a natural center in Macomb County, the agency’s CEO said recently.
Hailey Murphy, who took office last November, responded to a letter from a group of local officials on Feb. 18 who expressed disappointment that the zoo had not accepted a 2-year offer from Clinton Township and Mount Clemens to host the center in Shadyside Park for free .
Murphy recently sent an email that was read aloud last Thursday to Macomb County Commissioner Julie Matuzak of Clinton, one of six officials who signed the letter, at a county commission meeting at the administrative building in Mount Clemens.
“For now, please know that I heard the suggestions and take the offer of this site very seriously,” Murphy wrote. “I also wanted you to know that we are still in the very early stages of exploring the nature center under my leadership, and no decisions other than building the center in Macomb County have been made.”
Zoo officials four years ago announced they would host a natural center in Macomb County, but its progress has been hampered by difficulties in financing and finding property, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the departure of the former CEO. The last published price was $ 30 million.
A zoo spokesman recently said the center would be called the Great Lakes Nature Center.
In response to an email, Murphy Matuzak said: “I feel we are making little progress in keeping their promises in Macomb County.”
Matuzak said she would still like a zoo representative to attend the board meeting, “to talk about the larger-scale problem of what we get for our settlement.”
Taxpayers of the three counties pay the zoo 0.1 million. It was restored for 10 years in 2016.
In the letter, officials expressed concern that the zoo considers the Macomb Community College as an object. A specific location at the MCC has not been revealed, but local officials said the site will be located along Hall Road near the Clinton Central Campus.
“I don’t know how much it makes sense to place it in the county’s most populous commercial district,” Clinton Treasurer Paul Gilegham told The Macomb Daily earlier in February.
Shadyside Park is located in a natural environment on the banks of the Clinton River in the cities of Clinton and Mount Clemens.
Officials also advertised Shadyside’s proximity not only to the river that flows into nearby Lake St. Clair, but also to the Clinton River overflow, – the letter says.
Longtime zoo CEO and CEO Ron Kagan retired last summer, and on Nov. 1 he was replaced by Murphy, who was deputy director of the Atlanta Zoo and is the first woman to head the Detroit Zoo.