Shelby County is opening a Christmas tree recycling center beginning December 22nd (just in case you get sick of Christmas early) and running through January 11th in the south parking lot of the Shelby County Showplace Arena (105 Germantown Rd.).
Natural trees, wreaths, and other greenery must be free of lights and decorations. The greenery will be turned into mulch that citizens can pick up in the spring during county Earth Day events.
“We want citizens to take advantage of this free service. It will help prevent many of these trees and other items from being dumped along the roadsides,” said Tom Needham, Director of Shelby County Public Works.
This is the 14th year for the recycling program.
Twelve electric vehicle charging stations have been installed and are now operating in downtown parking garages.
ECOtality, a San Francisco-based company that specializes in energy-efficiency, and its partner, Blink Network, paid for the equipment and installation. Blink offers discounted access to charging stations to its members.
Costs for non-Blink members is $2 per hour or $1 to $1.50 per hour for members. Users must also pay parking garage fees.
Charging stations are location on the first and second floors of the following Downtown Parking Authority garages:
• The Justice Center Garage (245 Washington Avenue)
• Front Street Garage (85 North Front, between Adams and Jefferson)
• Riverfront Garage (Front Street at Monroe)
• Peabody Place Office Tower Garage (110 Peabody Place between Main and Second)
• Gayoso Parking Garage (Gayoso between Main and Second ).
• 250 Peabody Place Garage (250 Peabody Place between Third and Fourth).
A 13-member committee has been appointed by Mayor Mark Luttrell to explore new ways the county can improve its air quality and meet ozone pollution standards.
The committee met informally for the first time on Tuesday, and it's charged with examining air pollution from cars, industry, and other sources. The group will be required to submit its plans to Luttrell in a few months.
“We were notified months ago that Shelby County’s air quality did not meet federal standards. That finding and the recent decision by the City of Memphis to stop vehicle emissions testing led to my decision to form this committee. We need to take a comprehensive look at this issue to ensure corrective measures are taken,” Luttrell said.
Here's a list of those appointed to the committee:
· Co-Chairperson: Harvey Kennedy — Chief Administrative Officer, Shelby County Government
· Co-Chairperson — Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy
· Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald
· Kim Hackney — Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Shelby County Government
· Kelly Rayne — Shelby County Attorney
· Carter Gray — Assistant Shelby County Attorney
· Yvonne Madlock — Director, Shelby County Health Department
· Tyler Zerwekh - Administrator of Environmental Health Services, Shelby County Health Department
· Bob Rogers — Manager, Pollution Control, Shelby County Health Department
· Tom Needham — Director, Shelby County Public Works
· Pragati Srivastava — Administrator, Metropolitan Planning Office
· Paula Lewis — Executive Assistant, Shelby County Chief Administrative Office
· Martha Lott — General Services Director, City of Memphis
Updated plans for the two-way bike path that will connect Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline were on display this afternoon at an open house-style public meeting at the Lester Street Community Center.
The path will begin in Overton Park with a paved trail connecting the existing Old Forest trails to Sam Cooper, but that part of the project is being undertaken by the Overton Park Conservancy. The rest of the project is spearheaded by Livable Memphis.
Improved timers will be added to the intersection of Sam Cooper and East Parkway, allowing more time for cyclists and pedestrians to cross on the north side. From there, the sidewalk on the along the north side of Sam Cooper will be widened to allow more room for cyclists and pedestrians. That property is currently owned by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, but the city should be allowed to take some right-of-way at no cost.
A two-way bike path, allowing bicycle traffic in both directions, will begin in the cul-de-sac off the Sam Cooper sidewalk. That will lead to Broad Avenue, where the two-way path will continue on the south side of the street. This is a deviation from the past plan to place the path on the north side. Historic Broad Avenue Business Association vice-president Pat Brown said the path was moved to the south side to be in line with national standards, which show a preference to bike facilities being placed where the most activity happens. That prevents cyclists and pedestrians from having to cross busy streets to get to their destinations.
"The businesses are just thrilled to have the lane on our side now," Brown said.
The two-way path will continue to Tillman, where it will turn onto that street and eventually connect to the Shelby Farms Greenline. Most sections of the path will be buffered with a physical barrier than can be landscaped. Bollards will be placed on some areas of the path to prevent cars from turning off of intersections and on to the path.
A formal presentation of this plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight at First Baptist Church at 2835 Broad.
Two public meetings to gather input on what cyclists, pedestrians, and other stakeholders would like to see in the proposed bike path connecting Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline via Broad and Tillman are scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 16th.
A day time "open house" drop-in meeting is set for 2:30 p.m. at the Lester Street Community Center (317 Tillman), and a formal presentation is scheduled for 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church Broad (2835 Broad).
The Overton-Broad connector project, currently being spearheaded by Livable Memphis, will include paved trails through Overton Park connecting to Sam Cooper and a two-lane bike path leading down Broad and Tillman to the Shelby Farms Greenline. See this story from the Flyer for more information.
The Green Lane Project, sponsored by the national bicycling nonprofit Bikes Belong Foundation, will include Memphis and five other U.S. cities in its plan to support the development of protected bike lanes over the next two years.
"Protected bike lanes," also known as "green lanes," are lanes buffered from traffic with curbs, planters, posts, or parked cars. The goal of the Green Lane Project is to provide resources and technical assistance to selected cities in their efforts to install these buffered lanes. Other cities participating in the initiative are Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Portland, Oregon.
“Mayor A C Wharton has catalyzed a dramatic turnaround for bicycling in Memphis, making the city a
perfect partner for the Green Lane Project,” said Martha Roskowski, Green Lane Project director for
Bikes Belong. “Green lanes benefit everyone who uses city streets, not just people on bicycles. They
ease congestion, save valuable resources, and help create a healthier community.”
The proposed Overton-Broad connector path, which will connect Overton Park to the Shelby Farms Greenline, will be a protected two-way bike lane, separated from traffic by a landscaped buffer. The connector project is still in the planning stages.
“The Broad Avenue Overton project will use innovative bicycle facility design to provide access to an
underserved community, inspire reinvestment in the urban core, build on the success of what Broad
Avenue has already done, and connect public green spaces,” said Kyle Wagenschutz, Memphis’
bikeway/pedestrian coordinator. “We’re thrilled by the prospect of what’s ahead for our city over the
next two years with the support of the Green Lane Project.”
Over the past year, the city has installed 35 miles of bike lanes, and more than 55 more miles are scheduled to go in over the next year. That development led to Memphis moving from one of the worst cities for bicycling according to Bicycling Magazine in 2008 to being named the “Most Improved City” in the same magazine's Best Bike City Rankings for 2012.
A team of local cyclists set out in mid-March to map a bicycle-friendly trail from the Kentucky-Tennessee border to Memphis as part of the Mississippi River Corridor. Their route — known as K2M for Kentucky to Memphis — was unveiled this morning at the Tipton County Museum & Nature Center in Covington.
The 155-mile route takes riders along winding roads, many of them positioned alongside the Mississippi River, that have less traffic than the major streets leading from Kentucky to Memphis. The trail begins on Highway 157 near the Kentucky-Tennessee border, runs along the Great River Road (Highway 181), through the Chickasaw Wildlife Refuge and Meeman-Shelby Forest, and end in Harbor Town's Greenbelt Park.
On March 17th, 11 cyclists set out to map the trail by driving a van loaded with their bikes to the border. From there, the cyclists took to the streets, at times battling 12 to 15 mile per hour headwinds, to document the safest route for cyclists. The trip, which was organized by Ward Archer, took the cyclists two days to complete with stops at diners and general stores along the way.
Archer created a video of their journey, which can be viewed on the K2M website. The site also contains maps and GPS files that cyclists may download for free.
“The purpose of developing this route is to inform the growing numbers of bicyclists about how beautiful the biking country is in West Tennessee and to show them how to make the trip themselves," said Diana Threadgill, president of the Mississippi River Corridor-TN. "The film clearly demonstrates you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong to do it”.
The K2M route will eventually link up to the proposed Harahan Bridge Project, which will create a bicycle and pedestrian trail over the Mississippi River into Arkansas.
“This route is for those bicyclists who have a bit of adventure in them and want to get out in the open country for a few days”, said Archer. “I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s very doable, especially if you can get enough friends together to arrange for a support vehicle to tag along behind.”
The Overton Park Conservancy was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Assisi Foundation. The money will be used to fund cultural and educational programs, family-friendly activities, and for support of Overton Park's operations and capital improvements.
The Assisi Foundation awards grants to Mid-South nonprofits that focus on health, education, literacy, community enhancement, and civic and cultural programs.
The Overton Park Conservancy, a nonprofit charged with managing Midtown's largest park, is still about $1.1 million shy of its budget goal to fund park improvements over the first five years of its management contract.
Park capital improvements to be completed by this summer include Overton Bark (an off-leash dog park), restrooms, and playground improvements.
For more information on the Overton Park Conservancy, read this Memphis Flyer cover story.
More and more Memphis streets can be considered "complete streets" as Mayor A C Wharton's office makes good on its promise to add bike lanes wherever possible.
The urban planning term "complete street" is used to classify streets that cater to all users: motor vehicle drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and public transportation.
The Memphis/Shelby County Complete Streets Coalition is currently working on developing a complete streets policy for the city, which it will eventually propose to local legislatures.
To make its case for complete streets, the coalition is putting together a video to show how the complete streets approach can enhance street design and connect to recreation opportunities, like parks and greenlines.
They'll be interviewing experts in engineering and design for the video, but they also need ordinary users of city streets (i.e. pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, bus riders, etc.). To schedule an interview, contact Nicki Newburger.
The video is also being made with input from Memphis Community Development, Livable Memphis, and the Memphis Regional Design Center.
From 1917 to 1949, the Harahan Bridge was open to car traffic, but today the old bridge only carries rail traffic.
But that may change with a plan to convert the old 1917 motorway into a bicycle and pedestrian path across the river. Union Pacific owns the rail bridge, but in February of last year, they agreed to allow the walkway conversion. The city of Memphis and the city of West Memphis, Arkansas support the project.
On Monday night (March 12th), the Downtown Memphis Commission is sponsoring a public meeting on the project at the Memphis College of Art's downtown campus (477 S. Main) at 5:30 p.m. They'll be discussing a timeline for the project and gathering public input.
To see an animation of what the pedestrian path might look like, check out the Harahan Bridge Project website.
MBQ (our sister publication) reporter Lindsay Jones attended the unveiling of the city's first electric vehicle charging station in the Peabody Hotel's parking garage.
Read more about it on the MBQ Blog.
Drivers of electric cars in Memphis can finally charge their vehicles at a public station. The Peabody Hotel is home to Memphis' first charging station, which will be unveiled on Wednesday afternoon. The charging equipment is compatible with the all-electric Nissan LEAF.
The station was made available through San Francisco-based ECOtality's EV Project, which is overseeing the development of around 14,000 charging stations in 18 major cities. Memphis is set to receive more than 60 stations located in public areas throughout the city.
For more on the EV Project and proposed locations for Memphis charging stations, read Lindsay Jones' Memphis Flyer story.
A group of park preservationists, ecologists, business leaders, and others have launched a Speak Up for Overton Park campaign to gauge interest in forming a nonprofit conservancy to fund and manage Midtown's largest park.
The conservancy would be similar to the ones that manage Shelby Farms Park and the Memphis Botanic Gardens. The group's website — OvertonPark.org — says the park "is threatened by inadequate funding and haphazard planning," and the advocates claim that a conservancy might be the answer. If approved, a conservancy would maintain the city's ownership of the park, while decreasing its obligation to maintenance and upkeep.
Speak Up is hosting two public meetings this week to gauge interest in the conservancy model. One will be held on Saturday, June 25th from 10 a.m. to noon and the other on Tuesday, June 28th from 5 to 7 p.m. Both will be held inside the Memphis College of Art. The public survey is also available online.
More than 800 Memphis Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) customers in five zip codes will get a little schooling on water usage on Friday, April 1st. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., representatives from the utility company will begin visiting homes of people who demonstrated overly-high water consumption in the month of March.
(Disclaimer: There are no actual police involved in this effort. These are just friendly visits by MLGW field reps. "Water Police" certainly grabbed your attention though, right?)
The customers in zip codes 38104, 38108, 38106, 38111, and 38114 showed an average of 39 CCF of water usage during March. The average usage for most MLGW customers is 10 CCF, which is still higher than the national average. MLGW representatives will consult customers with the highest water usage on what factors may be contributing to their use.
For comparison, 39 CCF is the equivalent of drinking 234,000 16-ounce water bottles or flushing a 15-year-old toilet 7,293 times during the month. Part of the problem for the zip codes in question may be attributed to plumbing fixture leaks, fixtures that pre-date the 1990 low-flow toilet, facet, and shower regulations, or heavy laundry or showering habits.
Field service representatives will be wearing a uniform and badge. They'll also be going door-to-door on April 21st.
On Tuesday, March 29th, Douglass High School was officially granted partner status in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's TP3 Green School program.
The TP3 program promotes environmental education of students and staff through hands-on projects in clean air, energy conservation, hazardous materials, education, land and water conservation, and waste reduction.
Douglass has been working toward this goal for some time. Many students are involved in the school's Recycling Club and the Watt Busters Club, which encourages kids to practice energy efficiency at home and school. Douglass saved more than $7,000 on its energy bill after a year-long effort to unplug idle computers and other electrical equipment. In 2010, Douglass students launched the Eleanor Roosevelt Green Garden in the vacant lot across from campus.