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Conservancy, Zoo, City formally agree to end Greensward parking

Matt Thompson, Mayor Jim Strickland, City Councilman Jeff Warren, and Tina Sullivan
Matt Thompson, Mayor Jim Strickland, City Councilman Jeff Warren, and Tina Sullivan

Today, Overton Park Conservancy’s Executive Director Tina Sullivan and board member Mary Wilder met with Memphis Zoo CEO & President Matt Thompson and Board Chairman Jerry Shore at City Hall to sign a memorandum of understanding regarding the ongoing parking agreement between the two non-profit organizations with Mayor Jim Strickland.

The new plan, which has been approved by both the Conservancy and Zoo boards of directors, 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 is exploring the creation of a walking path around the perimeter of the Greensward to make the space even more accessible and increase its recreational potential. Overton Park 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.

Both organizations celebrate this historic day as they announce permanent solutions to the Zoo’s parking needs that not only preserves the entire Overton Park Greensward, but restores 17 acres of mostly forested parkland that has been inaccessible for decades.