Week That Was: Greensward, Guns, and Wine 

Last week brought some Tennessee firsts and (perhaps) a new direction on Greensward parking.

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Mayor on Greensward

• Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland proposed to permanently end Greensward parking in a proposal issued last week after the mediation deadline passed between the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy (OPC).

Even though mediation did not yield an agreement, Strickland said his plan is a by-product of the mediation talks.

The final decision on the plan, though, will fall to the Memphis City Council, which was slated to vote on the matter Tuesday. However, council chairman Kemp Conrad, who said he supports the mayor's plan, said he will ask his fellow council members to delay the vote for two weeks.

Strickland's proposal includes reconfiguring parking spaces on the zoo's existing lots, adding 100 spaces on the now-wooded north end of the Greensward, building a berm around the Greensward to block views of zoo parking, adding a new zoo entrance on North Parkway, building a new parking lot on what is now the city's General Services area, and running shuttles form the lot to the zoo on city streets.

OPC was in favor of the mayor's plan. But zoo president Chuck Brady called the plan "disappointing" and said that he wanted to "maintain the status quo."

Wine in Grocery Stores

• On Friday, wine flowed from the shelves of Tennessee grocery stores for the first time.

Wine sales began after a nine-year battle in the Tennessee General Assembly. Tennessee is now one of 40 states that allow wine sales in grocery stores. No other state has changed laws to allow wine sales in grocery stores in the past 24 years.

Liquor store owners have long expected their businesses to take a financial hit as one of their main (and exclusive) products can now be found at the local grocery store. The legislature gave liquor store owners a one-year head start on the change, allowing them to expand their offerings with beer, mixers, light food, and more.

While it's too early to call wine sales in grocery stores a success (sales are barely a week old), many industry insiders predicted it would be a massive surge in the wine business overall.

Guns on Campus

• Beginning last Friday, registered full-time employees of Tennessee's public universities were allowed to carry concealed handguns on school grounds.

State lawmakers passed the bill to allow full-time employees to carry handguns on public university campuses in May. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam expressed concern about the legislation but allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

The University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee (UT) Health Science Center began registering employees who wish to carry on campus last week. Leaders of the Tennessee Board of Regents and the UT system opposed the legislation.

No Easy Answers on Gun Violence

• Congressmen Steve Cohen assembled a panel in Memphis last week to discuss curbing gun violence, after several gun-control bills failed in Washington last month.

Panelists and members of the audience suggested tougher penalties for those illegally carrying guns, "common-sense" background checks for anyone wishing to buy a gun, and ending gun sales to several groups, including those on the federal no-fly list.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of guns [in Memphis]," said Memphis Police Department Deputy Director Mike Ryall. "The access to guns is so easy that it's a constant feeding machine. We need to look into how guns get in the hands of bad people."

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