Mayor City Mayor: Greensward Deal Is a ‘Win-Win-Win’


POSTED BY TOBY SELLS  /   Memphis Flyer

Designers with Memphis-based Powers Hill Design could officially kick off their work this week to create a new main parking lot for the Memphis Zoo, a move that will eventually end parking on the Overton Park Greensward.

The Memphis City Council quietly accepted funds for the project from the Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) on Tuesday. The vote came with no debate on what was once the most controversial issue at Memphis City Hall.

OPC officials were ready to deliver the funds to the city more than two months ago. But zoo officials said OPC did not have the money to actually build the project and threatened to pull out of the entire agreement if OPC could not get the money.

The council gave the OPC two months to raise $1 million, which it did through an online campaign that went national, several local fundraisers, and some big-money matching grants from local philanthropists and foundations.

With that money in hand, the OPC went back to council this week to give it the money for the design portion of the project.

Here’s what OPC communications director Melissa McMasters said of the situation:

“We were thrilled to be able to demonstrate the community’s commitment to protecting the park, and we’re eager to set in motion a solution to the Greensward parking problem. Now the design team can get to work and develop concepts, and we look forward to getting our neighbors’ feedback during the public engagement process.

It’s great to feel like we can finally get down to the business of returning parkland to the community!”

In his Weekly Update, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the compromise deal is a “win-win-win.”

“This week’s news brings us closer to the realization of a solution I proposed last year, which accomplishes three things: permanently ends Greensward parking, allows our great zoo to continue to thrive, and uses no city tax dollars, leaving them to be dedicated to core services.

It’s a win-win-win, proving the worth of compromise to permanently settle an issue that has dragged on for some three decades.”

Memphis city council member Joe Brown had earlier compared OPC to a notorious con man.

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