Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Your old road is rapidly aging

Wow, it's so exciting that we finally have our very own copy of the elusive 1988 Overton Park Master Plan!

I haven't had time to digitize it because I'm too busy stroking its silky-smooth pages and murmuring sweet nothings, but that'll happen ASAP so everyone can play along at home.

And even better, Stacey struck gold at Park Services last week when she was (accidentally) given visitation time with the 1986 Memphis Zoo Master Plan. This intriguing document does not exist if you ask Zoo president Charles Brady.

Confused? Let's review what we know.

The Memphis Zoo created a master plan in 1986, with pretty maps and big smart words and a coloring book and everything. That same year, the Memphis Park Commission decided to develop a 20-year master plan for Overton Park and hired Ritchie Smith & Associates. The Overton Park Master Plan was completed in April of 1988.

This plan expanded the Memphis Zoo from 36 to 70 acres.

Quite a few of the elements of this plan were modified or scrapped along the way. (After all, it wasn't written in stone.) The plan suggests, for example, that three acres of the abandoned I-40 corridor should be acquired by the City in order to provide a green "landscape buffer" between the Memphis Zoo and the adjoining neighborhood.

The City did acquire that land, but it became another Memphis Zoo parking lot. Here's what it looked like yesterday as Zoo Camp was letting out:

The leaders of the Memphis Zoo have repeatedly defended their decision to clearcut old-growth parkland for Teton Trek by saying "It's been in our master plan for 20 years" and suggesting that this info was readily available to the public.

Were they talking about the publicly approved 1988 Overton Park Master Plan or the internal 1986 Memphis Zoo Master Plan? Since nobody at the Memphis Zoo would admit that the latter plan even existed, we have to assume it's the former.

How exactly does the 1988 Overton Park Master Plan describe the Memphis Zoo's expansion plan? It delineates a forested area marked "Phase I" and "Phase II." That's it.

Because I've studied up on this topic, I can identify Phase I as the site of Northwest Passage and Teton Trek, while Phase II is the 17 acres we're trying to rescue.

But there's nothing in the 1988 Overton Park Master Plan about a Northwest Passage exhibit or a Teton Trek exhibit or a Chickasaw Bluffs exhibit or any damn clearcuts.

The 1988 Overton Park Master Plan is explicitly defined as a 20-year plan for the park, and those 20 years are up. In two decades the Memphis Zoo has managed to deforest half of its expansion area. It's time for a brand new plan.


Anonymous said...

Jeezus..........my head is spinning. The Zoo, highly disfunctional over the years it seems. It makes me proud once again to be a tax payer. Keep up the good work. Can't wait to see the expression on the griz and timberwolves faces when they hit the 100 degree temp with 80% humidity. Oh yea, just like the Tetons. I bet they will feel right at home. Sucks big time.

Where is Hayduke when you need him?

Anonymous said...

I am starting to get pretty pissed off at the zoo.

Anonymous said...

Yeah timber-wolves and grizzlies, in the barren wasteland of the Yellowstone wasteland of Brady's grand vision. It all went to hell the day Charles Wilson left. Chuck Brady and his handlers manipulated and stirred trouble until Wilson was suddenly made to leave (the word is out). Then Brady took his job and now it is all going to shit in slow-motion. How long will it take until the city sees that Brady has nothing but contempt for any community input and is ruining the zoo? Wilson would have never done such a rude hack-job on our park!And he actually cared for people! No matter how rude some people say he was. Rude maybe or just honest! Brady however is a mess all his own. They still officially celebrate him like he is the best thing since white bread. But he has driven a wedge between all of us in the community. Like we need to decide between 'some damn old trees or progress at the zoo'. Let's really take a close look, Mr. Brady! You are the menace that is destroying the zoo! An overpaid menace! Go back to New York and run carousels on Coney Island! You have reached the highest level of your incompetence and we are onto you... sure, it will take years to get rid of you. But you are hated and despised!In that time you will have messed up the zoo, the park and its finances. Because of people like you, ever more people give up on this city, where hope, integrity and civic manners are in short supply!
You guys at CPOP have been way too polite with him! Brady just needs to leave the zoo, forget phoney apologies, it is too late! Forgive the zoo, finish what was started, let's move on but Brady's head must roll.