Protect Overton Park from the Zoo Parking Lot
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We are grateful to Mayor Jim Strickland for his work to solve the greensward parking problem. Unfortunately, the plans presented so far require several design changes to prevent unnecessary and undesired physical and visual intrusion into the park. We respectfully request the development of a new design respecting the following principles.
>The footprint of the preliminary designs consumes almost 3 acres of park land and is needlessly large. It has been shown that the 415 required new spaces can be met within the zoo lot's current footprint. The new plan should pave no more park land than is absolutely necessary.
>The ring road, which is present in all three of the submitted plans, should be eliminated from future designs. It consumes a great deal of park land and places the sights, sounds, and smells of moving vehicles adjacent to Overton Park and its users. It intrudes on the sanctity of Veterans' Plaza. The circulation flow should be within the parking lot, not around it.
>Congestion in Overton Park and the surrounding neighborhoods is a serious issue that must be addressed, but it is not appropriate to use park land to do it. Instead, we advocate the following approaches.
- Eliminate backups caused by antiquated pay-as-you-enter systems. Instead, use pay-as-you-exit, pay kiosks, or pay-by-app as is done successfully at downtown parking lots, at the airport, and in Overton Square.
- Improve the North Parkway zoo entrance and encourage the use of the spaces along North Parkway and in the Snowden School parking lot that is available for usage by the zoo on the weekends and during evening special events like Zoo Boo, Zoo Rendezvous, and Zoo Lights.
- Eliminate free parking as a benefit of zoo membership.
- Congestion at Prentiss and McLean is life-threateningly dangerous. A full-scale professional traffic study should be done to determine the safest and best solutions, such as one-way traffic flow from Poplar to Morrie Moss to Prentiss to McLean and hardscaping forcing right-turn only from Prentiss onto McLean.
>Use Low Impact Development (e.g., pervious pavers through which grass can grow to provide the appearance of continuous green space) in the part of the lot adjacent to the park to reduce runoff and to provide a visual buffer between the lot and the park, particularly during the off-season.
>Trees in the park and on the border of the lot and park are a high priority. The small number of healthy mature trees within the Zoo lot should be preserved if possible; the rest are less critical.
<Please respect the will of the people of Memphis, who are the owners and users of Overton park, by ensuring that the final design protects the beauty of the park and the safety of those who enjoy it.
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