Three design firms will present their qualifications this month to a public board for the opportunity to work on the project that will end parking on the Overton Park Greensward.
That project is so far deadlined for mid-March 2019 but work to get to that date (and that outcome) is well underway. The 10-member steering committee working to help alleviate parking problems in Overton Park has been meeting regularly for a couple of months.
That group got to the nitty-gritty Thursday at Memphis City Hall. They narrowed the field of eight design firms that applied to work not project to three. Those firms are (ranked in order from first to third) Power Hill Design, A2H, and Kimley-Horn.
Those firms will make presentations to the steering committee sometime in late January. They won’t, however, present their precise plans for the project, which will reconfigure the Memphis Zoo’s main parking lot, add a berm around the Greensward, and more.
The plan is, basically, from the provisions passed in a resolution from the Memphis City Council in July. At the time, the resolution was passed, the project was projected to cost $3 million.
However, Jack Stevenson, an official in the city’s engineering division, told John Conroy, a steering committee member representing the Memphis Zoo, that he couldn’t yet tell him a final project cost.
“My hope was to tell the zoo that by ‘x’ date you have to have this much money and you’re telling me I can’t tell them that yet?” Conroy asked.
Stevenson confirmed but noted that he could tell him that the money needed to be in hand and ready to be appropriated by the council on February 7.
Some comments from the public to the steering committee (on the city’s website) noted that the size of the parking spaces in the zoo lot could be shrunk to accommodate more parking spaces.
Mary Wilder, a committee member representing the grassroots Overton Park Alliance, said volunteers from her organization found that only about 20 percent of vehicles parking in the zoo lot needed the 10-foot-by-20-foot parking spaces prescribed in the council resolution. She asked that the design firms add options for smaller spaces in their proposals.
The move was met with some resistance, though, with Conroy saying flatly that the “zoo will not entertain changes to the resolutions” and others noting that changes like that would add time and money to the project.
Wilder was told that changes to the resolution would have to be made by council and that any group seeking changes should petition that body.