The steady stream of folks to a portion of the new Shelby Farms Greenline may be stopped — temporarily — by TDOT construction at Holmes Street near East High School.
Construction at Holmes Street was supposed to be completed prior to the opening of the greenline, but the project, which is funded largely by federal dollars, was delayed. Now construction is scheduled to start at the beginning of the year and be completed next August.
But at this morning's City Council parks committee meeting, engineering division director Wain Gaskins told members that his staff was trying to identify detour routes through area neighborhoods to maintain the flow of the greenline.
Shelby Farms Park executive director Laura Adams was also at the committee meeting this morning:
"Closing the greenline for eight months is very problematic. We need to find ways to minimize that," she said. "There is so much great buzz around the greenline right now. We're concerned about this hurting our long-term prospects."
Holmes Street will be closed to traffic during the construction in an effort to speed up the process.
The Council also asked about new signage near the intersections of the greenline and busy streets such as Highland and Graham. Adams said Shelby Farms felt comfortable putting signage on the greenline itself but would defer to the city on city cross streets.
"It's incredibly popular, beyond our wildest expectations," Adams said of the greenline. "We have 400 people per hour at any one location on Saturdays and Sundays. We're scrambling to be able to meet the popularity of the trail."
Though security incidents have been few, they recently won a grant to install security cameras along the trail. Adams also told council members to expect good news shortly on the effort to connect the greenline to the fairgrounds and to Overton Park.
The public seemed out in full force to check out the greenline for the first time (or maybe the 7th or 10th, given earlier news reports of overcrowding out there), even creating impromptu bike racks.
The Boll Weevils entertained/stung? the crowd at the Podesta block party.
As did the band of bikes, a bike-powered DJ booth that rode along the Greenline visiting all the block parties.
As part of its commitment to plant one million trees in the park, the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy held its first "One in a Million Tree" contest this month.
Twenty trees from across the county were nominated with the winning entry a 275-year-old pecan tree submitted by Lee Millar.
"After researching the history of the site with two of Collierville’s town historians, and reviewing old land deeds and grants, I discovered that the property was given as a land grant to its earliest recorded owner
following his service in the revolutionary war," Miller said. "A log cabin was built under the tree, which would have already been large enough to provide shade at that time.”
Entries were judged on size, age, historical significance, and beauty, and I have to say: The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy got some really amazing judges to help them out. Just great, great judging prowess. (Oh, right. Full disclosure, I was one of them.)
The city of Memphis is asking local skaters what they'd like to see in the city's first public skatepark, due to open next fall.
The 10,000-square-foot park, which will be located in Tobey Fields next to the city's new dog park — and right behind the parks services offices — has been in the works for several years.
"The key is this: We are seeing a gradual revolution in the city where ... fitness is rising to the top," said Memphis mayor A C Wharton at a meeting in Orange Mound last night. "It's not about the size of the skatepark; it's about the depth of commitment to changing this city."
Zach Wormhoudt of skatepark designers Wormhoudt Inc. said they had no preconceived notions of what the park should be. But participants were shown pictures of bowls, rails, half-pipes, and snake runs, among others, to get an idea of what the park could look like, and they talked about flow, sight lines, and vert.
Several skaters also asked about including certain amenities: shade, seating for spectators, elecrical outlets, lighting for night skating, and nearby drinking fountains. Because adding those amenities would cut into the park's $440,000 construction budget — the city recently added lighting to some soccer fields at a cost of $250,000 — there was some talk about the skating community hosting fundraisers.
"This is the city's first permanent skatepark," Wormhoudt said. "We need to make sure it's a success from Day One."
The last day to take the survey is Tuesday, September 28th.
It won't just be penguins skating around the Memphis Zoo this winter.
The Zoo announced today that it will build an outdoor ice-skating rink, to open in November.
The rink, which will be located near what's currently a picnic area between Teton Trek and Northwest Passage, will be a semi-permanent exhibit open from November through the end of January.
Zoo spokesperson Abbey Dane says the idea was inspired by the ice-skating rink in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.
"It's a huge success there," she said, "especially during the holidays."
The skating fee will be $6 with skate rental and $5 without.
After years of wrangling over a location, the city announced today it would build its first skatepark at Tobey Park, near Flicker Street and Avery Avenue in Midtown.
“We are very pleased to finally let our local skateboard community know that this project is moving forward,” Memphis mayor A C Wharton said in a statement. “This is one more terrific quality of life investment in the heart of our city that will provide a safe, healthy, active resource for hundreds of our city’s children."
Funding for the skatepark — $440,000 — was approved by the City Council a few years ago, but the project stalled as possible locations — Overton, Glenview, and Rodney Baber parks — were explored. Tobey, one of the first options on the table, has the added benefit of lights, which would mean the park could be open extended hours.
The design team, a partnership between nationally renowned Wormhoudt Incorporated and Askew Hargraves Harcourt & Associates, is expected to host a public meeting within the next 30 days.
No one is ever going to accuse City Council member Barbara Swearengen Ware of liking dogs.
The City Council parks committee discussed the city's first dog park, recently opened behind the MCS administration building (and the parks division offices) on Avery, and Ware is not in favor of it.
"I don't want to spend another dime on dogs," Ware said. "We should encourage dog owners to think about what they're going to do with their dogs before they buy them."
"The reason we built this one the way we did, where we did, was because it's a test," Buchanan said. "We've been getting lots and lots of requests, going back to 2000."
"We put it across from our offices so we can keep an eye on it: Is it being used? Is it being used appropriately?" Buchanan said.
None of which seemed to satisfy Ware, who said the city shouldn't be spending money on dogs that they could be spending on people.
UPDATE, 3 p.m.: The local Go Skate Day event has been canceled. Sorry for the short notice!
Local skaters are celebrating International Go Skate Day today from 4 - 11 p.m. at "Al Town," the DIY skatepark located on Suzette just off of Crump.
Al Town has been a fairly well-kept secret for the past two years — I've heard rumors, but never actually seen it. I think it's in an old warehouse. But today all are welcome at Al Town, whether it's to skate or just check out what they've done with the place.
Skatelife Memphis founder Aaron Shafer tells me the skaters have most recently built a quarter-pipe, but there's also a mound they call "the volcano" and something else called the "wall ride" (my notes are unclear on what exactly this is, but I do know it's graffitied out. So there's that).
For more information, find the event on Facebook by clicking here.
ps. Anyone who goes, feel free to send me pictures and I'll post them here.
The fenced, off-leash park will have designated areas for both dogs under 25 lbs. and over 25 lbs. All dogs must be vaccinated, and bags for "doggie waste" will be provided.
“More and more urban cities are incorporating dog parks as a progressive component of their park system. The Memphis Dog Park is something that we have been wanting to provide to the citizens of Memphis for some time”, Cindy Buchanan, director of Park Services, said in a statement.
The park is actually test site, so dog owners will have to bring their own water, though there will be benches. However, Park Services plans to carefully monitor the off-leash dog park to have a better idea of what amenities to include when building permanent parks.
The RDC needs about $9 million to finish the project. The Wharton administration is talking about allocating about $1 million in the upcoming fiscal year's budget, which would keep the project moving, but puts the final piece of the project — the park — in jeopardy.
Basically, I think it would be a mistake to leave the project unfinished. We've put millions of dollars into the project already; to not finish it would make that money go to waste. ... And I think it would leave a very visible reminder of local government's failings, both financially and procedurally.
But if people think one of those failings is the creation and the operation of the RDC, the city can do something about that. It can bring the riverside parks back in-house.
I hope the RDC can find private money to finish the Beale Street Landing. If they can, it would prove to citizens that the RDC model works. But looking at the financial statements, I wonder how likely that is.
After the jump, I've posted the RDC's financial highlights from 2003 on in one handy-dandy place so you can see for yourself.