MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - One of Memphis' most influential leaders is ready to work to find a solution for the Greensward at Overton Park.
City Council voted to continue to allow Memphis Zoo to use the Greensward as overflow parking when necessary, but the vote did not end the controversy.
Greensward supporters continue to complain that there needs to be a better solution.
Richard Smith is an executive at FedEx. He and his family have given millions of dollars to Memphis Zoo over the years. Now he says he can help fix the issue.
"This is about doing what's right for the city," Smith said. "We don't want to continue parking on the grass and destroying it. We do want to find a viable long-term solution, but nothing thus far has been presented that's realistic or viable."
Many Memphians have suggested the zoo build a parking garage at their current location. Smith said that's not financially viable, because Memphis would actually have to pay for the garage, not the zoo.
"So that would actually be a city-funded garage that would sit vacant 300 days out of the year. I don't think that's a good use of taxpayer money," Smith said.
Smith said he wants to get both sides together and come up with a mutually beneficial solution. Plus, he said he's ready to help make that solution happen.
"I always put my money where my mouth is," Smith said. "When I say I want to build something that's world-class here, that is good for the park and it's good for the zoo."
He plans to be at the table through mediation and when the parking study comes back to help figure out the best solution.
"When I talk about enhancing something, it's going to take money, and we're willing to help with that," Smith said.
Smith said Overton Park Conservancy Executive Director Tina Sullivan seems receptive to his help.
That's all Memphian Braxton Carr wants to hear.
"From what I know, there's just not been a lot of progress on either side," Carr said. "It makes sense to try and bring someone in. If that doesn't work, then keep going."