Friday, June 27, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine Strikes Again

I talked to Mike Flowers, of Park Services, on the phone Thursday. I'd been trying for several weeks to get a copy of the Overton Park Master Plan from him. He called to say that after talking to his boss, Cindy Buchanan, he wasn't sure if he could give me a copy of the Master Plan. He wasn't clear whether I needed to request a copy through the City's legal department. However, while he and Cindy debated this point, he said that I was welcome to come to his office on Friday and look at his copy that would be waiting for me on his secretary's desk. (He however would be out of town Friday and all of the next week.)

He described the Master Plan as a 30-40 page document with not a lot of content. "You may not even want a copy when you see it," he said.

This afternoon, I went to the Park Commission building and looked through the documents that Mike left for me.

Let's see, what have we here. A Memphis Zoo and Aquarium activity book from 1984 and the Zoo's Master Plan from 1986. (Both the complete plan and a poster sized artist's rendering and summary.)

Wait, didn't I request a copy of the Overton Park Master Plan? This kind of reminded me of the time I went to OPD to see the Zoo's Teton Trek demolition plan and they showed me the landscaping plan instead.

First, I of course looked at the Learning & Activity Book.

It was really neat to see the Zoo's planning process for Cat Country.

It totally made me feel at ease about the upcoming Chickasaw Bluffs Exhibit!

Next up, the artist's rendering of the Zoo's 1986 Master Plan.

I realize that my camera isn't quite as effective as a scanner, but hopefully you can see that in 1986 the Zoo wanted to take over half of the greensward for parking and all of Rainbow Lake (and then some) for its New World Forest Exhibit.

Here's a close up of the area now known as "The 17 acres" or "The Enchanted Forest."

African Savannah? South American Grasslands? Suddenly Chickasaw Bluffs didn't sound so bad. (Sit down Chuck, I'm not joining the dark side.)

I think my favorite part is the Rivers of the World exhibit that includes Rainbow Lake and Lick Creek. I mean, I can't make this shit up!

Apparently the "interpretive/experiential exhibit [that is] delicately woven through the virgin forest" culminates with a huge pavilion and restaurant overlooking the oh-so-majestic Rainbow Lake. Actually, now I'm having Shelby Farms visions... silly as it sounds, it does at least make sense to me that they would want to have some "destination" or "reward" at the end of the Forest Trail. I mean how else are they going to get people to want to walk through all that WILDNESS!?

Especially when it's populated with wild turkeys and beavers!

Remember when Chuck Brady told us that this pathetic cartoon is the Zoo's current Master Plan in its entirety?

Puh-leeze. Based on what I saw from 1986, the Zoo at least has a summary and bare bones budget to implement the plan printed on the back of the original poster. At least. And honestly, it just doesn't make sense that they wouldn't have some accompanying narrative. How dumb do these dudes think we are? (Don't answer that.)

I thanked Mike Flower's nice secretary and made my way out. I called Naomi when I got in my car and she informed me that Ritchie Smith, who worked on the actual Overton Park Master Plan in 1988, said I could come by his office downtown and pick up a copy anytime.

Well, there was no time like the present. Stay tuned...


Anonymous said...

Looks like Chuck Brady/Memphis Zoo already have weekend "squatters rights" to the greensward--it's only a matter of time before they can argue a legal claim of that portion so they can pave it and make more $$$$$$ in parking fees. Just wait and see......

Makes one wonder what would happen if a "Critical Mass Picnic" of Old Forest supporters were to take over the greensward during a busy zoo weekend?

Anonymous said...

On the close-up of the 1986 Zoo Master Plan, the Forest section within the current 17-acre unraped section of Old Forest, it appears more than just the low-impact boardwalk that C. Brady is trying to sell to the public. There's a pretty big lookout tower with a sizeable footprint, as well as a pond with a second structure (gift shop, restrooms, Starbucks perhaps?). Then there is a paved road through the middle of the forest, and a maintenance road along the perimeter. All of this will probably be well-lit by streelights, I suppose, like the rest of the zoo. And underlying it all will certainly be a lot of infrastructure such as electric and security network cables, wiring for pipe-in muzak and zoo announcements, water lines, and/or sewage. All of this, and maybe more, within a NATURAL FOREST SETTING??????

Now how will the Memphis Zoo and City contractors be able to install all of these things, much less maneuver their trackhoes, dumptrucks, bulldozers, graders, and other heavy equipment in forestland that is supposed to be left "largely pristine" ????? And how will the current wildlife population of this parcel be affected?

One thing is sure: If the 17-acres is developed, it will be adversely affected on a large scale. But will the zoo win over the sentiments of ignorant nature lovers with the promise that they will replace the destroyed trees with even MORE trees, and thus assuage any damage to their image as champions of conservation?

For real, it is time for the Fence to come down.

And since Brady Inc. have proven they cannot be trusted, it is time for a new fence to be erected a couple hundred meters to the north, along the old Raleigh Springs RR (and boundary of the current zoo development), that will contain any further misguided encroachment by the Zoo autocrats and City appeasers into the Old Forest.

Unknown said...

I wonder what would happen if we actually did our urban planning by handing a coloring book to every middle-schooler in Memphis ("You are a city planner and have been selected to design a new school system...") then set budget priorities based on the results?

I'm waffling between AWESOME and CATASTROPHE.