Zoo won't fund shuttle from Overton Square - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Zoo won't fund shuttle from Overton Square

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MIDTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - Just as Overton Park launches a shuttle to help avoid Memphis Zoo patrons parking on the grass, Zoo officials say they won't pay for it.

This leaves the Overton Park Conservancy in a bind. Zoo leaders originally planned to fund the shuttle but backed out for this weekend's five-week trial launch.

MORE: Donate to Overton Park shuttle
MORE: Shuttle from Overton Square to Zoo starts May 24


"I think a lot of people think the Zoo wants it our way or no way and that's just not the truth," said Abbey Dane, Zoo Director of Marketing and Communications.

The Memphis Zoo initially agreed to help fund a trial run for the Overton park shuttle.

"We thought, 'You know what? That seems like a feasible solution in the long run if we can get this to work out. We'll be a part of a trial run,'" Dane said.

MORE: Memphis Zoo locks horns with the city over parking

But they add they didn't know it would mean shutting down the Greensward.

"I really believe that they're going to be looking at some disgruntled visitors at the parking garage who will be waiting and waiting for a 25-person shuttle when you've got 100 people waiting to come to the Zoo," Dane said.

“We've identified it as a potential solution to alleviate this congestion,” said Tina Sullivan, Executive Director of Overton Park Conservancy. “We think that the public is really supportive and excited about it and we think it will work.”
 
The next five weekends are the busiest for the Zoo, especially with upcoming events like Zoo Brew. They estimate they'll lose $500,000 by closing the Greensward parking these weekends. But they aren't closed-minded about another shuttle trial.

"Being able to promote something like this and get the word out really well, something maybe in July when we're just not as busy," Dane said.

“We'll have volunteers out directing traffic, informing park visitors where they can find additional parking or how to get to the shuttle. We'll have signage at the park that directs people to the shuttle locations,” said Sullivan, who adds there will also be signs identifying if Zoo parking is full during the shuttle trial weekends.

The park is receiving support regardless of the Memphis Zoo. Within 24 hours the Overton Park Conservancy received $2,500 for the shuttle fund.

“Donations so far are enough to cover the first two-and-a-half weekends so essentially we have half of the trial phase covered,” said Sullivan.

The Overton Park Conservancy estimates it will cost $1,000 per weekend to run the shuttle.

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