Monday, March 12, 2012

Zoo fees

The park has been in the news a lot recently. Yesterday's surprise (to me) Sunday banner headline in the Commercial Appeal was a story taking the zoo to task for having fees that are too high. This doesn't affect my world too often, but it is awfully high to take a family unless you go often enough to get the annual pass.

The worst thing, from my point of view, is that not only does the zoo park on the Greensward at will, but they're allowed to keep the $5 fee per car for their general fund instead of giving that money back to the park. Above is a satellite photo of the Greensward last season, and even from that height, you can see the damage that the parking does. Any fees coming in from parking on the park should go to the park, and not to the zoo.

Hopefully the Conservancy will figure out a way to get them a garage soon. Hopefully they will also get an easement passed to protect the green spaces of the park and ensure that the zoo won't come back in 10 years and say that the parking garage is full and that they now need to park on the Greensward again. The zoo doesn't want to spend their own money on a garage, in spite of taking over so much park money through the years. Before we hand over a garage to the zoo, a permanent, legal contract (ideally protecting the rest of the green spaces of the park as well) needs to be in place banning them from ever using the Greensward as parking again. The zoo has said that they're in favor of such an easement and has been working with Park Friends on drafts for years now, and I hope the Conservancy will put their weight behind it as well.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mowing the Grass

This week's Memphis Flyer has an article saying that the city parks department (sadly, no longer even its own department, in a recent and telling move by the mayor's office) will only be mowing parks every 32 days this coming summer. That's just less than once a month. People will be wading through calf-high grass for much of the summer in city parks. It looks like the Conservancy and its private grounds-keeping crew got here just in time (in spite of a little over-zealous leaf-blowing on occasion). We're lucky the park will look tended and be pleasant to walk through all summer.

Unfortunately, park maintenance is always the first thing cut when the budget gets tight, both locally and nationally.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Port-a-Potty in Lick Creek

view this morning looking down from the stone bridge at hole 2 over Lick Creek

This blog has been moribund for quite a while -- some pressing park issues kept me busy for all the time I could spare from working on my own career. However, today when former Park Friends board member (and current Overton Park Conservancy board member) Melanie White flagged me down to tell me that a port-a-potty was wedged under a bridge on the golf course, the photo op was too great a temptation. So I'll start trying to post some park news here again.

The port-a-potty washed into the creek from down in the golf course maintenance area. We periodically lose trash cans too close to the creek during flash floods, and yesterday's rain was a doozy. Several trees were down right around the bridge as well, so it hung up right under one of the old WPA stone bridges (the one between holes 2 and 3 of the golf course).

For the record, all that trash didn't originate in the park. Every time it rains hard, trash from upstream in Overton Square and other areas washes down the storm drains and ends up in the park.
Above is Lick Creek backed up because of the debris. Below, you can see that city parks crew was out there working on the problem first thing this morning. Department of Park Services continues to do great work in the park, even though the conservancy has taken over some responsibilities. I'm perpetually grateful to Larry Franks and his crew at DPS for all the time and attention they've given Overton Park over the years. They have a limited budget but are out there doing all they can whenever they're needed.