Monday, March 7, 2016

Conservancy Asserts Its Authority to Manage Greensward

Posted By on Mon, Mar 7, 2016 at 4:15 PM


The Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) re-asserted its authority to manage the Greensward Monday in a position paper that says while its board is concerned, it remains optimistic “that most of the issues can be resolved by agreement.”

Last Tuesday, the Memphis City Council approved a resolution that would transfer control of roughly two-thirds of the Greensward, the grassy field on the park’s west side, to the Memphis Zoo to be used for overflow parking on high-traffic days.

The zoo and OPC are scheduled to enter into a mediation session tomorrow to, perhaps, begin to hammer out parking and traffic issues that have plagued Overton Park for years.

The position paper issued Monday was sent by and is signed by OPC chairman Ray Pohlman, an AutoZone executive.

The paper’s main claim is that Tuesday’s resolution was “based on fundamental misunderstandings about the basic facts” about the city’s management agreements with OPC and the zoo.

“It is quite clear the city has never agreed to give the zoo management authority over the Greensward, and that the city very clearly gave that responsibility solely to the conservancy in 2012,” reads the position statement. “The conservancy, since 2012, has been managing, operating, and leasing the Greensward for private and special events, according to the terms of its agreement with the city mayor.”

That claim is followed with the hope that these and other issues can be worked out with an agreement through mediation rather than litigation.

Also, the paper states there has never been a disagreement between OPC and the city that the zoo would use the Greensward for overflow parking. It’s a fact OPC director Tina Sullivan told council members Tuesday.

“The conservancy has always acknowledged and accepted that, unless and until acceptable alternatives are found, zoo customers may continue to park on the Greensward on ‘peak’ days as a last resort,” the paper says. “The conservancy agreed to that in writing with [former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton] and we have reiterated that agreement with [current Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland] and the council.”

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