• Construction of Memphis Zoo's new parking spots to begin soon, protesters upset with decision

    By: Jacque Masse

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Construction is set to begin this summer for 415 new parking spaces for the Memphis Zoo.

    This decision—still a huge controversy for people who say zoo officials and the city are getting rid of green space.

    Zoo officials said they think construction will start in July, but there is not an official date set yet.


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    Activist Hunter Demster said he thinks there is still time to stop this.

    The city of Memphis, Overton Park Conservancy and Memphis Zoo agreed on a compromise in April of 2018.

    Demster is still not happy.

    “I’m tired of public land being abused for profit and that’s what this parking lot is,” Demster said.

    He participated in several protests against the parking lot.

    Demster argues the Memphis Zoo could choose another place to put a parking lot. He said he is more afraid that Overton Park will disappear.

    “I absolutely think they will take advantage of every opportunity they get to expand that zoo, regardless of the obvious support of the greensward,” Demster said.

    Memphis Zoo marketing director Nick Harmier said the Overton Park Conservancy agreed on the plan.

    The design shows a barrier of trees between the main lot and Greensward to prevent parking on the grass.

    “Parking has been an issue and this is a good resolution to that issue,” Harmier said.

    The parking lot will have 415 spaces. The city of Memphis is providing more than 200 parking spots along North Parkway.

    “As we continue to become a more popular zoo, it draws more and more traffic and more traffic draws more and more spaces,” Harmier said.

    Construction could start in July.

    Demster said he will not go down without a fight.

    “There is absolutely no reason to pave over one inch of this park, there are solutions that address the parking and save the park and to not take that approach is shameful and negligent,” Demster said.

    The Memphis Zoo and Overton Park Conservancy raised half of the $3 million needed to expand parking.

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