At least once each summer, Kelly Holtman and her son Nathan spend a day at Tracy Aviary.
They catch up on their lives, admire the birds and wildlife and enjoy the peace and quiet the Aviary has to offer.
"It's just such a nice atmosphere to be in," Kelly Holtman said. "It's good to see all of the kinds of birds that the aviary has."
For many, the facility provides a chance to get away from regular life and take family or friends for an inexpensive day together.
The aviary, founded in 1938, is moving forward with an ambitious plan to remake its attractions, and build appeal for patrons in winter months. To that end, the aviary has $19.6 million to spend, authorized in a November ballot. Administrators are tasked with making the renovations and upgrades in three years, said project consultant Paul Svendsen.
"It will be a tough deadline," he said. "But it's a deadline we have to make."
Problems in the aviary, in Salt Lake City's Liberty Park, are many. The drainage system is insufficient. Many of the buildings at the site are aged and worn. The aviary, while unique in the fact that many of the birds roam free, is not big enough to allow the wildlife needed space. And the entrance is hard to find.
"I think the people who ran the aviary in the past have been nice, well-intentioned people," Svendsen said, "but things just weren't getting done."
That's where the bond money comes in. Svendsen on Sunday outlined
plans for change at the aviary. New indoor rain forest exhibits, focusing on the birds and habitat of Mexico and Panama will be created, he said.
Plans, estimated to cost about $2 million, would completely renovate the Wilson Pavilion, one of the most deteriorated buildings on site, which will enable visitors to visit the aviary in winter.
The entry plaza also would be renovated and new shows and education facilities added.
"These are all important to us," Svendsen said. "We have to get it done because we suffer a steep decline in attendance after Pioneer Day. In the winter months, there are days when our visitor count is literally in single digits. We also have to get it done because we promised the public that we would."
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