Friday, July 1, 2016

Zoo President Calls Strickland Proposal 'Disappointing,' Wants 'Status Quo'

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 3:19 PM

click to enlarge Memphis Zoo president Chuck Brady - MEMPHIS ZOO
  • Memphis Zoo
  • Memphis Zoo president Chuck Brady

Memphis Zoo president Chuck Brady said in a statement Friday that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland's proposal to stop Greensward parking is "disappointing for a number of reasons" and said he'll ask Memphis City Council members to on Tuesday to "maintain the status quo"

Brady said Strickland's proposal will "put a cost burden of $3 million" on the zoo because the "Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) will NOT [capitalization is Brady's] be able to fund any of the costs."

Strickland's proposal says the zoo and OPC will share the costs.

Brady said the idea of shuttling zoo visitors has been tried before, failed, and that under Strickland's proposal, "families with small children will be required to either walk more than a mile through the park to the zoo’s entrance or pay for third-party transportation on surface streets in order to reach the zoo."

Here's Brady's statement in full:
 

Today, Mayor Strickland announced his proposal regarding parking for the Memphis Zoo and Overton Park. This option puts a cost burden of $3 million, plus additional operational costs, on the Zoo. While this proposal does allow the Zoo to use the public parking in General Services area, it fails to account for the need to transport visitors between the lot and the Zoo safely, easily and efficiently.

This outcome is, to say the very least, disappointing for a number of reasons. Primarily, we want to reiterate that fact that ALL the costs in the mayor's new proposal fall to the Memphis Zoo, as Overton Park Conservancy will NOT be able to fund any of the costs associated with the creation of extra parking and ongoing transportation for use by not only zoo guests but also general park-goers.

Under this proposal, families with small children will be required to either walk more than a mile through the park to the Zoo’s entrance or pay for third-party transportation on surface streets in order to reach the Zoo. Not only has this been tried before, it was a failed experiment by the previous administration. During the six weeks in 2014 that a free shuttle ran between the Overton Square parking garage and the Zoo, just 89 people utilized it.

This “solution,” proposed by the mayor, is a great disservice to the Memphis Zoo – the number one tourist attraction in the Mid-South – and the citizens in the Memphis community. 

The lack of consideration for appropriate and convenient transportation – such as highly efficient trams through the park – will impede many families from easily accessing the Zoo on its busiest days.

Because we are not being given the ability to provide our visitors with the quality experience they have come to expect, this move will negatively impact both the Zoo and the other businesses that reap the benefits of economic activity brought in by Zoo visitors.

We will continue to work toward a viable solution with the city council, on Tuesday, July 5, as we attempt to best serve not only Zoo visitors, but the Memphis community as a whole.

This is the administration’s proposal for a solution. Our proposal to the City Council on Tuesday will be to maintain the status quo.

Dr. Chuck Brady

Memphis Zoological Society

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