Update on Overton Park mediation

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I’m taking this special opportunity today to deliver an update on the mediation being conducted to bring a long-term consensus on the parking challenges at Overton Park.

In short, I’m proud to report that we are closer to a solution than ever before.

First, some background. Memphis Zoo patrons have been parking on the Greensward for about 30 years. My predecessor gave the parties until 2019 to find a solution. In January, on my 19th day as your mayor, I brought the Memphis Zoological Society and the Overton Park Conservancy into mediation. At that time, I said -- and the Conservancy agreed -- that overflow parking will continue on the Greensward until a long-term solution is produced from mediation.

Mediation is a deliberate process in which a neutral third party works with all sides to find compromise and consensus. Former Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Janice Holder and lawyer/trained mediator David Wade are leading the mediation, which has regularly involved representatives from the OPC, the MZS, my administration and the City Council.

Please know this: We’re making progress. And to show you that, here are two distinct items on which both sides have reached agreement during the mediation process: 

  • A plan will be developed to reconfigure the existing Zoo parking lot to provide anywhere from 50 to 125 new parking spaces.
  • On-street parking along North Parkway should be implemented, providing approximately 200 additional public parking spaces. I am directing city crews to begin that process.

From just those two items alone, as many as 325 parking spaces can and will be produced -- a huge step forward.

And this is hardly the only result of mediation, which remains ongoing. Many other issues are being discussed, and I’m more optimistic than ever that the process will produce a result. Just those two items above are proof that this is working.

The Memphis Zoological Society and Overton Park Conservancy are wonderful entities run by people of goodwill who love this city. I have met and/or spoken with many of them through this process, and their passion and desire to put in the real work to make this mediation successful makes me know we’re going to produce consensus.

I understand the mediation process seems slow. I understand it’s hard to follow. But the items I shared above are movement. They represent clear progress. While we are not at the finish line, we are much closer than we were in January. And I just wanted to share that with you today.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Overton Park and the Memphis Zoo -- two great assets in the core of a great city -- this very weekend.


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