Mixed-emotions for Spanish Lake residents over Saint Louis Zoo expansion project


SPANISH LAKE, Mo. – Activity at what will eventually be Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park has Jennifer Waters wondering why the zoo chose Spanish Lake for its new development.

“A lot of us don’t understand why they chose here. I get that it’s easier because it’s pretty, it has the lakes, it has the nature; but we live in a city where development is needed,” Waters said. “I just feel like there were other options.”

More than 10 acres of land was chopped along Spanish Pond Road.

“I think it’s scary because what they’ve cleared so far is along everyone’s property,” Waters said. “That’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing all the trees around everyone’s property taken away.”

Billy Brennan, public relations director with the Saint Louis Zoo, sent FOX 2 a statement along with the letter the zoo sent out to Spanish Lake residents in January. In the letter, it states:

In late January, we sent letters to our nearest neighbors – around 100 households – informing them of our perimeter tree and brush clearing project, which is necessary for us to install new fencing around the property to meet all required standards.

The zoo has held Zoom meetings and kept the community informed as to what’s happening. Most of them. Waters admits she hasn’t been available for every meeting. But she said she never received a letter.

“I hear that they may have sent letters out. We might not have gotten one,” she said. “I don’t know if the people who have written letters have received that communication.”

Joshua Jones did receive a letter. Jones lives across the street from where the brush clearing project is happening.

“We got emails, we got letters, and they all set up a Zoom meeting to let them know what was taking place,” he said. “Any homes directly impacted by the noise of the tree cutting. They alerted us to let us going on.”

To Jones, communication from the zoo has been great.

“I was kind of concerned for the wildlife. The deer. The turkeys. We’ve been seeing a lot of them here lately,” he said. “There was a lot of home over there to them. They cross the road back and forth in between the fields. But that’s not there anymore.”

He said the expansion could be good for the Spanish Lake area as whole and bring more positive light to the area. As for the wall that’s going to be put up across from his house?

“As long as it looks nice when they put it up, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Jones said. “Just don’t want a prison-looking wall up, all concrete.”

It’s likely the brush clearing and removal work may extend past March 31.

The zoo hopes their neighbors understand it will take the grace of time as it plans and designs a world-class WildCare Park.

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