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2 communities offer land for Detroit Zoo center

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (AP) — Two Macomb County communities are proposing to give land to entice the Detroit Zoo to build a nature center.

The offer from the Clinton Township and Mount Clemens shows the popularity of the proposed $20 million project. The property would be used for the zoo to construct the 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) Great Lakes Center for Nature, according to a news release.

Zoo officials said Sunday that there are more than 20 potential sites and a decision will be made soon, the Detroit Free Press reported.

“We are appreciative of the proposal generated by the Clinton Township Board of Trustees and Mount Clemens City Commission as well as their enthusiasm for the project,” Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society, said in a statement. “DZS has carried out extensive due diligence analyzing critical criteria, including site lines, size, adjacent features, access, soil and other environmental conditions. We anticipate finalizing the site selection in the very near future.”

The proposed land from Clinton Township and Mount Clemens is at Shadyside Park — along the banks of the Clinton River Spillway. It touches both communities, said township Trustee Michael Keys.

In February 2018, zoo and County officials announced the zoo would start building a freshwater nature center within a year.

The nature center project, originally proposed to be 20,000 square feet (1858 square meter) and cost $10 million, did not start as intended. It increased in size and cost to accommodate “a larger building and more habitats and programming,” Detroit Zoo Communications Director Patricia Janeway previously told the newspaper.

Macomb County was chosen to be the center’s home because it has 32 miles (52 kilometers) of coastline along Lake St. Clair and 31 miles (50 kilometers) along the Clinton River.

Mount Clemens Mayor Laura Kropp said the zoo has not approached the city about establishing the nature center there but noted it would benefit the region.

“In partnership with our neighbor Clinton Township, we are confident that we have the scale to make this a true destination point that will attract residents and visitors from throughout the region and all of Michigan,” she said.