Thursday, August 7, 2008

"It's Called Progress"*

The Citizens to Preserve Overton Park went before the City Council parks committee Tuesday to ask the council to do four things:

1. Restore 17 acres of old-growth forest, currently controlled by the Memphis Zoo, to free, public use.

2. Update the contract. Originally drafted in 1994, the contract is between the Memphis Zoological Society and the now-defunct Parks Commission.

3. Update the 1988 Overton Park master plan. Though the plan had a horizon of 20 years (and considering it's 2008, that's just about now) it looks unlikely another master plan will be drafted in the near future. Parks director Cindy Buchanan said she thought they could deal with the issue of the forest without spending the dollars needed for a master plan.

4. Create some sort of long-term legal preservation for the old-growth forest, either a conservation easement or a state natural area designation.

I won't go into it very much — if you want to read background on the issue, go here or here.

Construction at Teton Trek

New council member Wanda Halbert — fresh off the evergreen-contract friendly environment of the city schools — mentioned that she was concerned both about public input and how the city seems to be abdicating its responsibilities to quasi-governmental agencies.

"I value our partnerships, but this is city property," she said.

The irony is that the very next thing on the agenda — the very next thing — was an agreement between the city and the University of Tennessee for the school to provide maintenance, security, and other enhancements to Forrest Park.

As presented to the council, the agreement would initially run for a year, then, like the zoo's contract, be renewed each subsequent year unless terminated.

UT vice chancellor Ken Brown said the park was in the heart of their campus and they are interested in adding more lighting and video cameras.

"All improvements will be endorsed by the city," he said.

Halbert, however, wanted to add a more definite time frame to the agreement. "You always forget to terminate a contract," she said.

*"It's called progress," courtesy of Barbara Swearengen Ware. The council member said that not everyone is proud that Memphians stopped the interstate from going through Overton Park and the zoo needs to be able to continue to expand and add new amenities.


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm proud we stopped that interstate and set a legal precedent. Furthermore, ware's definition of progress was outdated 25 years ago. But hey, it's such a great idea to destroy an irreplaceable, centuries old beautiful forest for "amenities," isn't it? No wonder, with attitudes like that, we're on every list of backwards cities....

marycash said...

I think many, many people would agree with you.

Not much surprises me about the City Council anymore, but her statement about the interstate really did.

Save This MG said...

The statement doesn't surprise me. She's a worn out has-been who continually shows that her politics are anything but forward thinking.