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VOL. 131 | NO. 43 | Tuesday, March 1, 2016

City Council to Discuss Greensward Controversy

By Bill Dries

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The next setting for the Overton Park Greensward controversy isn’t the park. It is City Hall.

Memphis City Council members meet Tuesday, March 1, at City Hall with a committee discussion on the Overton Park Greensward controversy expected to be the dominant topic of the council day.

(Daily News File Photo)

Memphis City Council members have an executive session “discussion of Overton Park” on their committee list at 1:45 p.m. for Tuesday, March 1.

And opponents of Memphis Zoo overflow parking on the Greensward are mobilizing to turn out for the meeting.

Their fear is that the discussion could turn into some kind of action by the council in the dispute which is in court and in mediation – in both cases with the Memphis Zoo on one side and the Overton Park Conservancy on the other.

There is no item on Overton Park on the council’s agenda for a vote later in Tuesday’s council day.

But a majority vote by the council could add an item to the agenda for a vote.

Meanwhile, Ursula Madden, chief communications officer for Mayor Jim Strickland, said the administration is aware of the discussion item.

“That item has been placed there by the City Council,” she said in a written statement. “We don’t know precisely what the council is proposing at this time.”

Neither does Overton Park Conservancy executive director Tina Sullivan, who points to the start just last month of the mediation effort that has been brokered by Strickland. There is also a park-wide traffic and parking study underway by the conservancy that has yet to move to a set of recommendations.

The administration’s perspective, however, is essential. Any changes to the city’s relationship with the zoo or the conservancy would likely be a contract. And the particulars of contracts are matters approved by the mayor.

The council can suggest or recommend action on contracts. But it can’t act unilaterally without the mayor’s agreement.

The council meeting is at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125. N. Main. Follow the meeting with live Tweets from @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, as well as updates on the committee sessions earlier in the council day.

Also in committee sessions, a 9:15 a.m. meeting by the council’s Safety Committee will take up donations from two East Memphis neighborhood groups totaling $48,916 for a total of six “SkyCop” surveillance cameras, three in each neighborhood.

The two neighborhoods are the Hedgemoor subdivision and the River Oaks neighborhood.

Each group is raising and donating the money for the cameras to the Memphis/Shelby County Law Enforcement Foundation. The foundation then donates the money to the Memphis Police Department which will install and monitor the cameras.

The Public Works Committee, at a 1 p.m. session, also discusses the authorization of $2 million more in funding for the delivery of more 96-gallon recycling carts to the Solid Waste Management Department to expand the city’s curbside recycling effort.

Daily News publisher Eric Barnes is on the board of the Overton Park Conservancy. He did not participate in the reporting or editing of this story.

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