VOL. 131 | NO. 134 | Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Greensward Partisans Turn Out Two Weeks Ahead of Council Votes on Settlement
By Bill Dries
The Overton Park Greensward wasn’t on the Memphis City Council’s agenda Tuesday, July 5. But there were plenty of partisan from the controversy in council chambers in what was a rehearsal for a council vote in two weeks on a settlement of the park’s parking problem.
Greensward partisans appeared to have the greater numbers by the number of green shirts in the crowd. Backers of the Memphis Zoo in the controversy wore yellow.
Both sets of partisans carried placards displaying their zip codes to show support for their respective positions beyond Midtown.
The council delayed a vote Tuesday on third and final reading of the ordinance that will codify part of a settlement of the controversy and what is codified is expected to include at least some elements of what was proposed at the start of the 4th of July holiday weekend by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.
Council chairman Kemp Conrad said last week that he would move to delay the final vote to the July 19 council session.
Nevertheless, both camps showed up at City Hall.
Greensward supporters back the Strickland plan for the most part. Zoo leaders came out against the plan to reconfigure the zoo parking lot and keep North Parkway on-street parking as well as add a surface parking lot on the East Parkway side of the park with a shuttle system running from the lot to the zoo and the park in general without going through the Old Forest.
The plan would also create an additional 100 parking spaces for the zoo by converting the northern tip of the greensward for those spaces with a berm blocking a view of the cars from the greensward.
The zoo contingent left early in the council agenda Tuesday, prompting the greensward contingent to wave signs at them as they exited.
Conrad gaveled all of it down calling it “ridiculous behavior.”
Later, Conrad said the council could approve a resolution that endorses Strickland’s plan in general and then give final approval to an amended ordinance on changes that the council controls.
Some elements of Strickland’s plan are not within the council’s authority although Strickland said early in his handling of the controversy as mayor that the council generally controls the use of city park land.
“It could be amended and seven votes will rule the day,” Conrad said. “My intention … is to codify the changes the council has control over.”
Meanwhile, the council delayed a final vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would change the rules governing the recently reconstituted Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board.
The rewrite so soon after the council reconstituted the dormant board last November was prompted by a part of the ordinance that violated Tennessee’s Open Meetings Law.
But the revision also removes a section from the 2015 ordinance that allows the council to use its subpoena power to call witnesses for the review board.
Council attorney Allan Wade has said the council cannot delegate its subpoena power.
Some council members said Tuesday they want to hear more about that specific part of the revision and possibly vote on the various changes as separate items.
The item returns to the full council for a vote at the second council meeting in August.
Council member Berlin Boyd said a plan for the redevelopment of the Pinch area is essentially complete and that the Strickland administration is rounding up grant funds and other financing for elements of the plan.
Boyd commented Tuesday on the timeline for a council vote on the plan within 90 days as the council approved a continued moratorium on new development in the Pinch district until the council approves the redevelopment plan.
The council approved a used car lot at 1780 Bartlett Road at Pleasant View Road in Raleigh as well as a single-family historic district designation for 480 W. Brooks Road in Walker Homes, the home of the late photographer Ernest Withers.
Developers of a proposed truck stop-motel on Hollywood at Interstate 40 in Frayser withdrew their latest effort to win council approval of the development on the site of the old Treasury department store before it ever go to the council.
The council also approved a referendum ordinance on the second of three readings that would ask voters to approve a city charter change requiring all city employees hired after a certain date in the future to live in the city of Memphis.