Thursday, March 12, 2009

Overton Park Doesn't Need a New "Lake"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - Memphis Flyer

Overton Park Doesn't Need a New "Lake"

By Bruce Van Wyngarden

Spring came to Memphis last weekend. A week earlier, we were "buried" in eight inches of snow — a freakish occurence in this old Southern town. But last Saturday, we got back on course with a sunny, warm day designed by spring's PR department. In Overton Park, the denizens of Memphis gathered to celebrate.

Well, they didn't actually "gather," rather they filled the place up. The Zoo parking lot was packed. The walking trails were full of joggers, strollers, dog-walkers, and cyclists. The funky little golf course was doing box-office business. The swingsets and slides had lots of little customers. And in the center of it all — the massive greensward — it seemed half of the city was out enjoying the sun.

Kites were flying. Dogs were running in circles, chasing balls, sticks, and each other. An ultimate Frisbee game occupied part of the field; soccer players kicked around a ball in another section; a father and son played catch. The motley collection of drummers that assembles on nice days provided a soundtrack for it all. If there's a more important — and more used — recreational space for Midtown than the greensward, I have yet to see it.

So when I read the news that city engineers were proposing to turn a football-field-sized patch of the greensward into a "detention basin" to catch the occasional overflow from Lick Creek, I was surprised, to say the least.

I've walked Lick Creek with my children on many occasions. It's less a creek than a concrete culvert, but 10-year-olds think it's great fun to explore and delight in collecting salamanders and the occasional golf ball.

The problem is, after heavy rains, Lick Creek overflows and floods a nice neighborhood — Bellair — just south of the park. The detention basin, say city engineers, would fix that problem. They cite similar basins on the Audubon Park golf course and allege that we would hardly know it's there. Except when it rains hard, of course, at which time users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the greensward. Or afterward, a large muddy, trash-filled depression.

C'mon, folks. This is Memphis' Central Park. There's got to be another solution. And if I know Midtown and its neighborhood groups, I suspect a great deal of pressure will be put upon city engineers to find one. Here's hoping they succeed.


Kayla Crass said...

I am a student at the Memphis College of Art, and when our school sent out fliers about "The Big Hole" I was so shocked. I come from Arkansas, were trees are everywhere. If it were not for the park, this city would drive me stark crazy. The new drainage would cause sever problems for everyone in the area. Misquotes would infest the city, maybe even carrying viruses with them. Do we want the people of Memphis to come down with Malaria? I have met so many people in this park, and to lose that small plot of land would depress many of us; human and canine alike. Please, if any of you care for this park, PLEASE speak up. ((((overtonparkforever)))) XD

Melissa said...

I'm also a student of MCA and all I can ask is how STUPID does the city of Memphis have to be to think that it's a "good idea" to clear out that section of the park? Do they not realize (or care for that matter) that it will do nothing but being a festering pot for disease and mosquito born illness?
I'm from Oklahoma where the mosquito population is really bad and every year there are numerous cases of kids and adults alike being rushed to hospitals over these types of illnesses. I think that if there was a problem as massive as that across the street from my SCHOOL then I would pack up my bags and leave in a heart beat. I'm not going to let some idiotic bureaucracy have negative effect of my HEALTH and well-being.