County commissioner Mike Severino sees the Potter Park Zoo like this: "It's kind of like a car where you owe more than it's worth."
He says an asset, yes, but it's a burden too, and one Ingham County shouldn't take on without an incentive.
"Before they come to my constitutents and ask for tax dollars as a bail out, I'd like to see the city council bring more assets to the table," he says.
His proposal would have Lansing give up two golf courses as well. The mayor had proposed selling them earlier in the year, but council is opposed to the idea.
Severino says Ingham County could use the green space as a park, recreational area, or even a water park, and the city could use the help. "The city council's been...non committal. I'd really like to see them come to this with an open mind," he says.
For now, he has City Councilwoman Kathie Dunbar's Attention. She says voters should focus on the zoo millage separately for now, but down the line, sharing the land that is the golf courses with the county could be a win-win.
She suggests shortening the Red Cedar's 9-holes and using the extra space for a cross-county skiing area. "Nobody loses," Dunbar says. "We get additional park space used by more people, and golfers get golf."
Could the plan hold up a deal on the zoo millage? City and county insiders emphasize it is not the issue now.
Still, Severino says make it one. "If we're gonna regionalize the zoo, we need to provide resources and opportunities for the tri-county area." He says it's best way to sell Potter Park as an opportunity for all.