Memphis Zoo locks horns with the city over parking - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Memphis Zoo locks horns with the city over parking

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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One of Memphis' biggest tourist attractions could lose 80,000 visitors all over parking.

Tuesday morning the Memphis Zoo pounced on Mayor A C Wharton over a plan it says "will lead to the demise of the Zoo as we know it today." The move could mean lost visitors and $1 million in lost revenue. For a Zoo of this size, that is a major loss.

MORE: Memphis Zoo issues apology to mayor, Wharton responds
MORE: Memphis Zoo responds to city's proposals for parking alternatives


For two decades the Zoo has had an agreement with the city Memphis to use the Greensward, a grassy area in Overton Park, for overflow parking. But the Overton Park Conservancy and Mayor Wharton want to end that.

MORE: Overton Park shuttle service launches May 24

In fact, Zoo officials said they only use the Greensward for roughly 65 days a year.

Zoo President Dr. Chuck Brady said that the real solution is the construction of a parking garage but that would cost about $12 million the Zoo doesn't have. In fact, in a statement Tuesday morning, Dr. Brady took the mayor to task for quote, "joining the side of protesters against the Zoo."

For now, they are left pleading with the city and the group Citizens to Preserve Overton Park to give them time to come up with a more workable solution than just closing the gates on the Greensward.

There is another possibility Zoo officials want to explore. Another area, further away from the Zoo, used by the city's public works department could be paved, and used for public parking. But that would involve the purchase of large capacity trams to shuttle people to and from the Zoo.

There appears to be opposition from other park lovers and residents to this plan as well. If a solution isn't found, Dr. Brady said the Zoo would have to downsize and become a smaller, a less desirable version of itself.

Should the Memphis Zoo, which is in the running to be named the best Zoo in America, be allowed to continue to use the Overton Park Greensway for overflow parking?

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