"We're really grateful to the leadership of both institutions for working this out," said Pat Schulze, chairwoman of the Sunnyside East Community Council.
"It's been a safety concern in the neighborhood, not to mention the pure annoyance of the congestion, on Saturdays in particular," she added. "A third to a half mile from the zoo, it's a zoo."
The 30-year deal, with possible extensions, will cost the zoo about $115,000 a year, said zoo spokeswoman Erica Hansen.
"With the other options we looked at, including a parking terrace, this is the least disruptive option and the best value," she added. "Terraces can be 15 to 20 times more expensive."
The agreement will help both facilities deal with increasing attendance, a joint news release said.
The parking lot to be used by zoo patrons on all but three days a year including Pioneer Day is far from the Heritage Park's central operations and gets minimal use from its patrons.
Rent paid by the zoo for that site will be spent on developing more parking closer to the Heritage Park core.
Besides helping the Heritage Park Foundation meet its financial goals, chairman and chief executive Ellis Ivory said the agreement "provides a huge improvement in our parking facilities. New improvements to the park will provide a significant boost in income through increased attendance and building rentals."
Zoo board president Jim Hogle said that with his institution's attendance now topping 1 million annually, "the one issue we have been struggling to address is better parking and access for our guests."
He emphasized that the zoo's investment is coming from revenue earned at the gate or concessions and not from taxpayer contributions through Salt Lake County's Zoo, Arts and Parks program.