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VOL. 129 | NO. 101 | Friday, May 23, 2014

Compromise Allows Greensward Parking This Weekend

By Bill Dries

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The Overton Park greensward will be used for overflow parking at the Memphis Zoo for one more weekend under a compromise announced Friday, May 23, by the Overton Park Conservancy.

Leaders of the conservancy, the city of Memphis, the zoo and Citizens to Preserve Overton Park met Friday morning, one day before a trial free park shuttle begins a five-week run between the park and the Overton Square parking garage.

All sides agreed that the zoo “will be allowed to use the greensward this weekend in a limited capacity, as Memorial Day weekend has historically been its highest attended weekend of the year,” according to a statement issued Friday afternoon by the conservancy. “For the remaining four weekends of the shuttle trial, the Zoo will not park cars on the Greensward and all parties will assist in promoting the shuttle services to their constituents.”

The shuttle will continue to include stops at the zoo and other locations in the park.

Earlier in the week, the zoo pulled its partial funding of the shuttle to protest a larger plan including the shuttle that zoo chief administrative officer James Jalenak said would “lead to the demise of the zoo as we know it today.”

It appeared the zoo was still not funding the shuttle service with Friday’s compromise. But the shuttle appeared to have picked up some new sponsors, including Orion Federal Credit Union, Huey’s, Premier Transportation and the Chickasaw Group of the Sierra Club.

Citizens to Preserve Overton Park and the Get Off Our Lawn coalition are also sponsors of the shuttle. Both groups had been active in protests that began last month to block the overflow parking. The protests played a key role in the developments of the last week.

The protests had a stated goal of ending the overflow parking by the end of 2014.

The conservancy’s Friday statement on the latest compromise says city Chief Administrative Officer George Little has reaffirmed the Wharton administration’s commitment to that.

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