On Thursday morning, Representative Steve Cohen announced that the project to permanently end Greensward parking would be granted $3 million in federal funding. These funds will allow the project to kick off more quickly and assure high-quality work on the collaboration between Overton Park Conservancy, the Memphis Zoo, and the City of Memphis.
The project will move the Zoo’s current maintenance area to the park’s southeast corner, making use of existing buildings in the northern portion of what is now the City’s General Services Area. The Zoo’s existing maintenance area, located along N. Parkway, will then be converted into parking. Along with some restriping of the Zoo’s main lot, this reconfiguration will add the 300 spaces the Zoo needs without carving out a portion of the Greensward.
Following the creation of the Zoo’s new parking lot, the Greensward will be permanently closed to overflow parking. The Conservancy will also look to remediate soil damage and install some landscaping that serves as a visual barrier between the Greensward and the Zoo parking lots.
The Zoo’s board of directors has also authorized the 17-acre tract of parkland on its eastern border to be transferred to Overton Park Conservancy’s managed area. This tract includes space behind Rainbow Lake that is currently being used for temporary Zoo exhibits, but it is mostly a continuation of the Old Forest’s wooded ecosystem. The Zoo will remove its exhibit space, and the Conservancy will begin implementing the forest management practices we already undertake in the adjacent 126-acre Old Forest State Natural Area. We’ll also install a trail system, after which the fence that’s separated this area of the forest from the remainder of the acreage can come down.
We’d like to thank Rep. Cohen for advocating for this funding and including it in the final bill. We look forward to collaborating on this solution with our partners for an even better park and Zoo experience for our visitors!