Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maintenace Area Pondered

St. Jude wants to take over the downtown city/general services maintenance area near its campus, and the city is beginning to think about moving both it and the one in Overton Park to one consolidated location. The zoo has ideas about what might be a good use for that space. They want overflow parking first and foremost.

I think a better plan would be to have them build a garage (instead of continuing to add surface asphalt to the park) in their current staff parking/maintenance area, inside the current zoo footprint, and let them use a part of the maintenance area for greenhouses or whatever they need (provided they provide much more appropriate screening for other park users than they have been willing to along their other park boundary fences) and keep most of that area for park. Jimmy Jalenak of the zoo has been actively promoting this plan, but the tricky bit is finding funds for a parking garage (which is never as high on the zoo's list of priorities for its money as the new, sparkly exhibits).

The current masterplan has a second greensward in the Southeast corner of the park, and we need more free, open space in the park. Maybe we could put up soccer goals again, since the zoo never returned the ones to the Greensward that they removed for parking. Soccer was a highly popular activity until we lost the goals.

The CA has an article beginning the pubic debate. Let your voice be heard by the city!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proposed Memphis Belle Memorial

A while ago the city administration signed a contract to allow the Memphis Belle Memorial Association to build a monument to the Belle adjacent to Veterans Plaza, between the Doughboy and the Korean memorial (at the zoo end). No park groups were consulted at that point, but I heard about it when they submitted their first design for review, and Parks Director Cindy Buchanan decided to form a review committee for Veterans Plaza in general, beginning with this project. It includes Cindy, me, Larry Franks (also DPS), Ritchie Smith, who designed the master plan for Overton Park, and John Weeden of Urban Art.

Their original proposal was a 40x20 foot concrete pad with a life-sized statue of Margaret Polk (the Belle herself) and a nine foot high granite "billboard" with information. We all felt that was too large, and they came back recently with the following proposal. It contains the life-sized bronze still, with a plaque that is laid back at a bit of an angle (unlike the current memorial plaques in the plaza), but it is still 4'2" high. The current ones are 5'5" high and feel far too high to me. They make something of a barrier to the views.

These are the drawings for the monument itself. They have proposed sidewalks on four sides, which would still mean a lot of concrete around it, but I hope we can reduce that.

The top drawing is the side view as you approach the monument from the plaza, walking past the Doughboy. You can see that the plaque is set at an angle, to be a little lower (if not a lot).

Below is the front of the monument, as seen directly from the plaza with the Greensward behind. The large bronze plaque will be a photo of the plane and crew.

This is the side view, seen from the zoo end of things.
There will be more historical information and a timeline in bronze on the back, facing the Greensward.

I am nervous about continuing to add things to Veterans Plaza, knowing that we also have two current wars underway and that the plaza is getting very full. We need to make sure that we don't get it too full (or worse, spill out into the rest of the park with such monuments), but it's a place that is very dear to the veterans of this community.

Anyway, here are the plans as they stand, and I thought it was time to at least get them out to be seen and have a public discussion if one is wanted. The Memphis Belle Association plans a groundbreaking at 11 am on Saturday, November 13th.