Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Citizens Make Demands of Memphis Zoo in Petition

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 11:24 AM

click to enlarge This photo of muddy ruts in the Overton Park Greensward accompanies the petition.
  • This photo of muddy ruts in the Overton Park Greensward accompanies the petition.
A petition that issues a list of demands to the Memphis Zoo has, at press time, nearly garnered 800 signatures. Chief among those demands is the issue of zoo parking on Overton Park's Greensward. 

Last year, park users protested the long-standing practice of Memphis Zoo patrons parking on Overton Park's largest green space on peak days. That led to protester-led sit-ins on the Greensward, a brief test of shuttling zoo visitors from the Overton Square parking garage to the zoo, and the eventual reworking of the zoo's long-term parking plans.

A reconfiguration of Memphis Zoo parking would add 250 new parking spaces to zoo lots and add up to 100 available on-street parking spots along North Parkway once bike lanes have been striped there. That is expected to ease up on Greensward parking, but it will not eliminate the zoo's need to allow some overflow parking there.

The petition calls for an end to all Greensward parking though. 

"Over 20 years of parking on Overton Park's greensward has killed the grass, compressed the soil, and carved muddy ruts that make the greensward unusable even when cars are not parked there. The zoo should till and reseed the affected area, making it suitable once again for its intended uses," the petition states, adding that all future zoo enhancements should include additional parking. "Adding or improving exhibits draws additional visitors. The zoo should find ways to accommodate their guests without harming Overton Park or the surrounding communities."

Other demands include:
* Canceling the zoo's planned Chickasaw Trail exhibit and removing the fence around the 17-acre area of Old Growth Forest where the zoo plans to build it.

* Concealing the back side of the Teton Trek exhibit from the view of park users.

* Ceasing the use of park roads as service roads for zoo vehicles.

* Establishing a procedure to seek community input on all future zoo plans.

* Respecting the park's boundaries. States the petition, "The zoo has claimed too much parkland already. It has no claim to additional park land, including the maintenance facility in the southeast corner of the park."

* Partnering with Overton Park Conservancy and other park and environmental advocates to help the zoo "grow in a way that benefits, rather than harms, Overton Park." 

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