Concession stand at zoo discussed

By Vanessa Kahin
Staff writer

After years of not having one, Hillcrest Park Zoo might soon have a concession stand.

The issue will be discussed at Thursday’s city commission meeting, and members of the Parks, Recreation & Beautification Committee also discussed the plan at its meeting Monday at City Hall’s Assembly Room.

The Hillcrest Park Zoo is set to gain a new entrance toward the east side of the park. This will serve as the park’s main entrance. The current entrance, on the park’s west side, will be a service entrance, said City Manager Joe Thomas.

The new entrance will include a concession stand, Thomas said.

Nathan Freeman, owner of Baby J’s, offered to operate the concession stand. He was at the meeting to describe the possibility of selling hot food items such as hamburgers, hot dogs and Frito pies; as well as cold items such as ice cream and snow cones.

There would be no cooking done on the premises.

Thomas noted that preliminary plans have Freeman paying the city 15 percent of the concession stand’s gross receipts. The city would pay for the stand’s utilities.

City Commissioner Thomas Martin questioned whether the city’s cut of the deal was feasible.

“I’m a little concerned about the 15 percent,” Martin said. “I don’t want to put (Freeman) in a bind. I’m just trying to think, what is he going to have to supply?

“The city needs to have that service at the zoo, but I don’t want (Freeman) to have to provide that service without being reasonably compensated.”

The concession stand issue was the only item discussed that will be on the city commission’s agenda on Thursday.

Also discussed was a request to place a memorial for Seaman Apprentice Joe Louis Gonzales, a Clovis native, who killed while serving on the USS Frank E. Evans during the Vietnam War.
Seventy-four men died after the destroyer collided with the HMS Melbourne of Australia.

Their names cannot be added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Thomas said this is because the sailors were conducting a training exercise when they died.

Sharon Shirak, the director of the USS Frank E. Evans Memorial Association, which seeks to place a small memorial in honor of each fallen sailor in his home state, has been in touch with Claire Burroughes, the city’s legislative and community development director. The intent is to place a memorial for Gonzales within the city.

Committee members expressed their approval to host the memorial. No site was selected.

The committee also discussed:

• A Yard of the Month program to begin in June. The program would reward local businesses and yards for exceptional landscaping;

• Updates on several items, including:

The community Easter Egg Hunt, which took place April 19. The event attracted an estimated 400 children who searched for approximately 5,000 eggs.

The Hillcrest Park Zoo ribbon-cutting, to take place 2 p.m. May 9.

A dedication of a rose garden at 2 p.m. May 29 at Hillcrest Park Zoo.

The Great American Cleanup on May 3.

The search for a new parks and recreation director, pending the retirement of current Director Bill Bizzell. Thomas said potential candidates who pass an initial round of telephone interviews will be brought to Clovis for a round of face-to-face interviews.

• Additional speed bumps and curb stops at Hillcrest’s parking lot.

The Parks, Recreation & Beautification Committee will meet again at 5:30 p.m. May 19.