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Statement regarding tree removal

On Monday, January 11th, Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) staff became aware that 27 trees on the north end of the Greensward had been removed by an unknown person or persons. After contacting the Memphis Police Department and our park partners, we learned that the Memphis Zoo removed these trees, which had been planted by OPC in 2012. The Zoo did this to make room for yet more parking on the Greensward. No notice was given to OPC. Additionally, the Zoo intended this to be the first of ongoing efforts to remove trees from the Greensward.

These actions are entirely unacceptable.

OPC immediately took action and contacted the City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen and informed him of this matter.  After this conversation and, at COO McGowen’s request, Chuck Brady, CEO for the Memphis Zoo, agreed to take no further action until OPC, the City of Memphis, and the Zoo could discuss the issue further.

Both Doug McGowen and OPC have reached out to Chuck Brady about the return of the trees, which were generously donated to OPC. OPC will provide an update as soon as we have all fully communicated on the issue.

The Memphis Zoo’s recent actions are in stark contrast to the collaborative effort underway by OPC and all the park partner institutions to identify parking, access, and transportation solutions that best fit the needs of all park users and stakeholders.

The Conservancy anticipates announcing a lead consultant for the parking and traffic planning study in the coming days, and we are committed to engaging ALL stakeholders in this study.  We are confident that several immediate, achievable, and affordable alternatives to Greensward parking already exist. These alternatives will be thoroughly explored, vetted, and refined over the coming months in an open and transparent process that engages all park stakeholders.