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Speak Up Results #2: Your Ideal Overton Park

If you could wave a magic wand and make Overton Park 100% perfect, how would you do it?

That’s just the question we asked in our 2013 Speak Up Survey, and here’s what you had to say:

Speak Up Survey - Your Ideal Overton ParkWe’re happy to say that so many of these things are in the works:

  • Our park partners at the Memphis Zoo, Brooks Museum of Art, Levitt Shell, and Memphis College of Art regularly put on incredible events for the community. Our own second annual Day of Merrymaking is coming right up.
  • We’re working together with the park partners on the solution to the park’s traffic and parking issues. Short-term solutions include exploring shuttle service to and from the park. Long-term solutions (such as a new parking garage) require a great deal of planning, followed by a great deal of fundraising, but rest assured that we are all actively working on it together.
  • One thing that will assist with reducing traffic is encouraging safer access to the park for cyclists and pedestrians, and improving those neighborhood connections. Bike Gate was an early piece of that puzzle. The next step is improving the entrances to the park, as well as sidewalks and paths within the park. We need your input in order to do this most effectively. Will you attend a meeting this month and give us your suggestions?
  • New wayfinding signage is on the way within the next few months. We’re pretty excited about it.

We asked you to describe the best possible Overton Park. Here are a few things you told us:

Safe. Clean. Well maintained. Running/ walking trails with mileage marked, larger ‘off leash’ area for dogs with place to swim, nice landscaping like at Centennial Park in Nashville, a community garden, more parking for Rainbow Park, frisbee golf course, show movies and have concerts at Levitt Shell.”

I am very much thankful and appreciative of Overton Park like it is.  Things I would add in a fantasy future is better sidewalks getting into the park from Poplar (we live nearby and often walk to the park).  We would also like it if there was some sort of midtown shuttle to the park on weekends or spring break week.”

Rainbow Lake PlaygroundFamily reunions, lovers picnicking, kids playing, dogs frolicking with their people, all different kinds of people using their park. The public using public space safely and well. I do wish it would become a place for peaceful political demonstrations. No loud music at the zoo, scaring the animals. A parking garage at the zoo and better public transportation (buses? streetcars? shuttles?) so fewer people bring cars and there are no cars on the Greensward and fewer in the neighborhoods. More art from the art college!”

Safe, peaceful (no cars parking in grass), serene, with fun community building events (yoga in the park, free concerts at Levitt, music at golf club house, nature walks, food trucks, etc.)”

A destination where Memphians can bring their families, dogs and friends to enjoy numerous activities and events. The best Overton Park is safe, clean and well maintained. It has so many people there doing positive things that anyone who might do something negative doesn’t feel welcome and goes somewhere else.”

“- Some kind of bike facility — sales, repairs, etc., maybe where the municipal garage is. Perhaps a partnership with Revolutions, the community bike place? Because of OP’s central location, it would be a magnet for bikers all over town.
– More places to securely lock up bikes, all around the park.
– Food. The most practical and flexible option might be a regular presence by food trucks.
– A series of exercise stations around the park (pushups, pullups, etc.) to help work off all that good food.
– A play fountain like the one in Chattanooga or in Peabody park, maybe between the road to the west of the park and the doughboy.”

A place to go listen to the silence (and the birds); to sit and stroll and contemplate, to recharge the soul.  But where others could play and congregate, pursuing their own idea of happiness, so long as there is respect among all.”

Overton Park GreenswardMaintain the diverse mix of uses and users. Eliminate or reduce parking to limited areas (garage on zoo property). Improvements to the E. Parkway playground, esp. new surface material. An ecologically healthy Rainbow Lake. Regular use of park pavilions and facilities by an array of groups (continue the good work). The Greensward full of people relaxing and playing (casually or more organized sports), especially on nice days. Litter maintained.”

It seems the most productive outdoor space in Memphis is activity centered, like the Greenline.  My ideal Overton Park would include low impact adult fitness zones, basketball courts, an expanded outdoor sculpture garden and more volunteer programs.  It would also be nice to have more identification plaques for the trees along the walking trail.”

“I don’t think there is much to do. I think it would be cool if the golf clubhouse evolved into a low-scale dining option. Great porch and beer. Good sandwiches or burgers would be a good fit. Could even have picnic style lunches to sell for Levitt and such.”

Bike lanes. Dog poop bag stations and waste cans throughout. Emphasis on native horticulture & landscape design & signage telling us about the plants. Classes on mindfulness walks through the forest trail. Things built with materials that are much more aesthetically pleasing and unobtrusive even if they may have to be replaced slightly more frequently. Celebrations of the seasons changing.”

Overton Park Golf CourseMy main concern is the historic golf course. It is a jewel in Midtown, but needs help. The management does a great job. To make it more playable the greens need to be replaced. They are a disgrace and totally unfair. More players would head there if the greens were good.”

“-A sidewalk around the perimeter of the park.
-More of a connection between the East and West sides. They seem like different parks.
-If possible, activity areas for things like basketball or tennis.
-A pavilion on the West side of the park.”

Really nice, improved picnic areas. More landscaping. Feeling as safe as you do at home, while walking through the park or picnicking or playing golf.”

I am increasingly happy with the park. I think you guys are doing a great job. If you include Brooks, College of Art, Levitt Shell, and the Zoo then there is a wonderful diversity in the park of things to do (along with the dog park, open fields, trails, playgrounds, etc.)”

One that engages the community in design and ownership.  Citizens should not be passive recipients of this kind of amenity for its sustainability.  The Park should be as natural as possible, as wild as possible.  This is easier to maintain, helps our urban environment function, teaches us respect for nature and will sustain in the long run because we are not fighting nature but using it as an asset and letting it work for us.”