On July 1, a day after the deadline set for mediation, Mayor Jim Strickland announced a compromise plan that would end the practice of overflow parking on the Overton Park Greensward. On July 19, the City Council will be asked to support an amended version of the Mayor’s plan that has the consensus of the Memphis Zoo and Overton Park Conservancy.
Below are the details of this proposed solution:
The Zoo will gain 415 new parking spaces, distributed between its main lot and its satellite lot at Prentiss Place. The main Zoo lot will be extended slightly into the Greensward, with a berm to screen out the Zoo lot from the Greensward. The parking expansion will stop short of a grove of mature magnolias, preserving both the trees and their access from the Greensward. The Conservancy‘s Director of Operations, Eric Bridges, will help to develop a tree care plan for other trees affected by the reconfiguration, to include relocating existing young trees.
The Prentiss Place lot will be expanded, absorbing the current sidewalk. A new sidewalk will be added on the northern side of Prentiss Place. The McLean access point to this lot will be made exit-only, which will alleviate congestion at McLean and North Parkway. The Conservancy will look for efficiencies at the Tucker entrance during our upcoming master planning effort.
This plan makes room for buses to drop off passengers along Morrie Moss near the Zoo entrance, and then leave the Zoo to park in other designated locations, including the new parking lanes on North Parkway. This will free up spaces in the parking lots on school field trip days, as buses had formerly parked in the Prentiss Place lot. It is anticipated that the Zoo will continue to find places for employee parking outside of their visitor parking area on peak days.
The southeast corner of the park (currently the City’s General Services area) will be added to the Conservancy‘s managed area, and we will be able to design an appropriate balance of parking and green space once the City vacates that site. Visitors to the popular East Parkway picnic area will gain access to much-needed parking spaces.
As shown on the aerial image, park users will soon regain a large section of the Greensward that has been unusable for decades, while Zoo visitors will gain additional nearby parking.
This compromise has broad support, which reflects the willingness of all parties to work together in collaboration toward a consensus, and which preserves these important public assets for generations to come.