The Overton Park Conservancy (OPC) reached its $1 million goal Sunday, paving the way for a project to end parking on the park’s Greensward.
The funds will pay for a project to reconfigure and expand the Memphis Zoo’s main parking lot, which will give the zoo hundreds of new parking spots. The new lot is expected to give the zoo enough parking to end its use of the Greensward for overflow parking, which it has done for years.
OPC met its goal on the deadline day given by Memphis City Council two months ago. The fundraising campaign came after Memphis Zoo leaders prepared to back out of the agreement altogether, claiming the OPC did not have the funds for the construction portion of the project.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support of more than 1,000 donors from all over the country, but mostly right here at home,” OPC officials said on in a blog post Sunday. “If you ever wondered how much Memphians love and value Overton Park, the last two months have answered that question in a big way.”
OPC leaders said they will leave the fundraising page on their website open as they expect to have to raise another $500,000 between now and the fall. The council’s agreement splits the costs of the project equally between the OPC and the zoo and the project is expected to exceed $3 million, according to the OPC.
As of Friday, the OPC had $19,500 left to raise and donors had given $30,500 last week. That money was matched with a $61,000 grant from the Hyde Family Foundations.
Donors were from all over the country and, as of Friday, the only states missing were Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.