MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Construction is set to start soon on additional parking at the Memphis Zoo

Congressman Steve Cohen made the major announcement Tuesday along with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and leaders from the Memphis Zoo and Overton Park Conservancy.

“I was fortunate to secure $3 million in community projects,” Cohen said. “That $3 million in grant funds will ensure there is adequate and improved parking at the Memphis Zoo in Midtown.”

For years, the issue of where zoo visitors should park has been heated, with the need for overflow parking and the Overton Park Conservancy’s desire to preserve Overton Park’s open grassy fields called Greensward.

Mayor Strickland said he has worked on a solution since he was elected in 2016.

“I did not think it would take this long. Better late than never,” he said.

Last year, leaders announced seventeen acres of the Old Forest had been reserved for zoo expansion will now be managed by the Overton Park Conservancy.

Tina Sullivan, the executive director at the Overton Park Conservancy, said the agreement was reached, but not the funding.

“These $3 million grants allow us to break ground and open new parking and this land back to public use,” she said.

Now that new parking will be available, instead of parking on the Greensward, two renderings show the Greensward with a proposed new tree-lined walking path and a naturalized Rainbow Lake, with a new boardwalk trail and pavilion.

It’s what Overton Park Conservancy hopes to work towards.

“Bottom line, we have a better park, better zoo. A true win-win,” Strickland said.