VOL. 131 | NO. 100 | Thursday, May 19, 2016
Overton Mediation Looks at Reality Of North Parkway On-Street Parking
By Bill Dries
Where shuttle buses will drop off those bound for Overton Park and the Memphis Zoo in particular, as well as the public’s reaction to newly created on-street parking on North Parkway are issues being discussed in mediation to resolve the park’s Greensward controversy.
The disclosure from the closed negotiations among the zoo, the Overton Park Conservancy, the administration of Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis City Council comes with a June 30 deadline looming for the mediation process.
Council member Worth Morgan talked in guarded terms about negotiations on Tuesday, May 17.
“The efforts that are being made by one side or the other I can’t get into the specifics of it. And believe me we are working very hard on it,” Morgan said. “I wish it were moving faster. That’s not something I can force.”
Morgan spoke during the Tuesday council session to dozens of critics of the zoo’s use of part of the Greensward for overflow parking.
Earlier in the mediation, the zoo and conservancy agreed to move toward a reconfiguration of the zoo’s existing parking lot that could create more spaces. Strickland also ordered city crews to immediately re-stripe North Parkway between McLean Boulevard and East Parkway to create on-street parking.
Last weekend, the on-street parking was being used.
“The North Parkway space is not being utilized as efficiently as it could be,” Morgan said. “It is a long walk. That is part of the talks and I can’t go further than that.”
Many of the citizens sporting green T-shirts and waving “Save the Greensward” signs were specifically at City Hall this week for the second of three readings on an ordinance that would set in place boundaries among the park’s institutions, including the zoo.
The ordinance is a follow-up to the March 1 resolution the council approved which gave the zoo control of as much as two-thirds of the Greensward for overflow parking.
The zoo used the full two-thirds for several weekends before going back to the original one-third of the grassy area.
The council approved the ordinance Tuesday on second reading. Its sponsor, council chairman Kemp Conrad, said he will delay third and final reading until the first council meeting in July, after the June 30 mediation deadline.
The deadline set by Strickland is a firm deadline, with Strickland saying he will decide the matter with council ratification if the mediation doesn’t produce an overall settlement.
If there is a settlement, Conrad has said he will amend the ordinance to incorporate the mediation outcome.