Speak Up Results #4: What’s the Priority?

Now that you’ve told us what you love about Overton Park and what it looks like in an ideal world, it’s time to see where you think there’s room for improvement.

Speak Up Survey 2013We’ve been talking a LOT about parking recently, but we want to reiterate that it’s a problem affecting the entire park, not just the Greensward on busy days at the Zoo. We encounter the issue during 5K races, large gatherings at East Parkway Pavilion, Levitt Shell concerts, and just on days when the weather is particularly beautiful. There is simply not enough street and surface parking to accommodate all the visitors to the park and its cultural attractions on busy days.

It’s why we’re advocating for a garage to be built on zoo property; such a structure would accommodate the cars that are currently being parked on the Greensward, but it would also reduce the amount of congestion on the park roads and help with the larger issue of traffic in the park. But there’s a national trend toward moving cars out of parks, and we want to encourage that trend in Overton Park as much as possible.  Our recent shuttle project has been an effort to immediately reduce the impact of cars in the park. And we’re in the beginning phases of making improvements to park entrances to make them bike- and pedestrian-friendly. We want to send the message that if you don’t need to bring your car to the park, leaving it at home is the best option.

Another concern park users have brought to us is that of safety (or the perception of safety) in the park. It’s why we work closely with Colonel Houston and the Memphis Police Department to communicate about what’s happening in the park. It’s why there are Blue Crush cameras installed in the park at Rainbow Lake Playground and the East Parkway Pavilion. It’s also why our Team Overton Park volunteers are incredibly valuable as they report what they see to us on their visits.

Greensward walk

More people walking their dogs, playing on the playground, and having picnics means less opportunity for negative park uses.

Crime in Overton Park is infrequent, mostly taking the form of smash-and-grab car break-ins (and mostly incidents where purses or valuables have been left in plain view). We encourage all park visitors to be as vigilant in the park as they would be anywhere else–to stow their valuables in a trunk before arriving at the park, lock their doors, and remain aware of their surroundings. If you see something suspicious, call 545-COPS. The Memphis Police Department occasionally sends patrol cars as well as bicycle cops through the park, and they have been very responsive to our reports.

Data backs up our assertion that there is less crime in Overton Park than in the surrounding areas. The more positive activity occurring in the park, the less likely crime is to find its way in. Having a lot of people running the trails, walking dogs, playing on the playgrounds, flying kites, and gathering for picnics and events helps to make the park safe. We want everyone to feel secure and welcome when they come to the park, and we believe continuing to encourage positive use is the best way to do that.

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