Walnut Creek: Animal rehab center may have to relocate

- The Walnut Creek community is fighting to keep the Lindsay Wildlife Experience in their backyards, after learning that they may have to find a new location.

The lease on the building is expired and negotiations are underway with the city. 

Bursting at the seems, is how officials with the Lindsay wildlife experience describe the growth at their space in Walnut Creek. 

Located within Larkey Park, Lindsay wildlife is a welcome attraction for families who travel from cities all over the Bay Area just for up close encounter with an animal they'd never dare touch in the wild. 

"The porcupine," replied 3-year-old Jasper Shen when asks what his favorite animal is.  

"There's so many animals here and sometimes there's new animals to see," said 5-year-old Oliver Shen.

Lindsay Wildlife is constantly growing and in need of more space. 

"Membership has grown over 35 percent. That's unprecedented. Admissions has gone up more than 20 percent on the last year alone," said executive director Cheryl McCormick. 
 
If you've been inside the hospital, you know they're working in close quarters, like the tightly shared office space, or the small treatment room.

For a place that rehabilitates 5,500 animals a year, they're pretty maxed on space to house them. 

"On this side of our public exhibit floor we have an amazing new interpretive master plan that calls for our visitors to have an experience as soon as they get outside of their vehicle so we'll be doing a lot more outdoor programming," said McCormick.

28,000 square feet isn't enough. 

A campus would better suit their needs.  

Currently, Lindsay wildlife pays $1 a year in rent. It's 25 year lease with the city just expired, now they're six months into a five year extension while negotiations are underway.

All options are on the table, including staying put and acquiring their old building, now owned by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). 

Relocating entirely is also a possibility.

"It's great for the community and to have this leave to go to another town when all they have to do is put some mo e.g. Into that place and they can add on here. I'd be disappointed," said Pleasant Hill neighbor Paul Christianson. 

The city of Walnut Creek says "our hope is to keep this partnership alive and well in Walnut Creek. we are fighting for them. We think this is a valuable asset.

The city contributes $75,000 annually towards Lindsay's operating costs. In the past couple of years the city says it paid $1.6 million for various heating and cooling enhancements and roof work. 
Because of financial constraints, the city says they can no longer take on those kind of costs. 

Both parties say the 25 year lease that ended didn't specify who is responsible for maintaining the property. The city would like Lindsay Wildlife to take on some of those costs. For now, negotiations continue. 
 

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