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updated: 1/27/2012 2:14 PM

Partnership brings bison fence to Elgin's Lords Park

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  • Pokey the bison will get a new pen and then hopefully some buddies at the Lords Park Zoo in Elgin now that the city and Friends of Lords Park Zoo have joined efforts to pay for it.

       Pokey the bison will get a new pen and then hopefully some buddies at the Lords Park Zoo in Elgin now that the city and Friends of Lords Park Zoo have joined efforts to pay for it.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 

A new bar has been set in public-private partnerships Elgin City Council members hope to see more of in the future.

The council voted this week to spend just more than $35,000 on a new bison fence at the Lords Park Zoo with public donations collected by Friends of Lords Park Zoo covering the remaining $17,000 of the contract cost.

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Volunteers pledged their time and energy to reduce the costs by $8,100 and make the project possible.

Councilman John Prigge said the partnership in getting this work done should be held up as a model when it comes to future ideas for city property.

"This is a fantastic template for groups that want to get involved and improve the community," Prigge said.

The city has owned the zoo and Lords Park since the late 1800s after a donation from George and Mary Lord. The Lords Park Task Force identified replacement of the bison pen as a top priority in 2010.

There is only one bison left at the zoo, Pokey, but more animals are expected once the new fence is in place.

Councilwoman Tish Powell said the property and replacement of the fence is ultimately the city's responsibility -- a fact that makes the Friends of Lords Park Zoo's involvement such a good thing.

"It's nice we don't have to foot the bill for this entire project," Powell said. "This is one of the unique and fun, and still yet free, things to do in this community."

The contract with Rock Valley Fence was unanimously approved during the council meeting Wednesday amid support for the potential the project has in future projects.

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