Overton Park was designed by George Kessler in 1901 as a place for people to play, explore, and enjoy the beauty of open fields and ancient forest. For most of the last century the Greensward has been a peaceful green space in the heart of our park.
In recent years the City of Memphis has allowed the Memphis Zoo to use the Greensward as an overflow parking lot on busy days. Our zoo is becoming more popular every year, and so is the rest of our park. The current lack of traffic control and rapidly rising damage to public parkland is unacceptable.
There are two obvious solutions -- running shuttles from the Overton Square and/or Crosstown parking garages, and building a new parking garage inside the zoo's boundary -- that would end the gridlock and restore the peace for everyone.
We want the Overton Park Greensward restored as a calm public space, not a chaotic private parking lot. We are sick of the noise, dust, fumes, and destruction. We want the cars and trucks to get off our lawn now and forever.
We commend Memphis Zoo officials for supporting the idea of shuttles to the park, and for their commitment to provide space inside their boundary for a parking garage. We are very grateful to the City of Memphis for deciding to ban overflow parking on the Greensward by the end of this year.
Below is Mayor AC Wharton's May 17 statement. Click to biggify.
Thank you to all of our fellow citizens who have worked hard to make this happen. When these solutions are implemented, our park will be a better place for everyone.
UPDATE: We were very surprised and disappointed to receive the following letter from Mayor AC Wharton on December 31, 2014. The fight for a car-free Greensward continues.