Developer Henry Turley gave an overview of the Fairgrounds project to the Memphis Rotary Club on Tuesday. Turley (a member of the board of the parent company of this newspaper) said of his development team, "We start with questions, not answers."
Well, here are a few of ours — questions, that is:
From Beale Street Landing to Shelby Farms, everyone seems to be talking about building places for Memphians from different places and backgrounds to "come together." Very well, but what is the foundation for this belief in togetherness (with the exception of the Memphis Zoo and football and basketball games) at a time when so many concerts, movies, television programs, publications, shopping malls, churches, and schools appeal to niches that are more different than alike?
At least three other Midtown sites are targeted for major renovation — Overton Square, the old Sears Crosstown building, and the southeast corner of Poplar and Cleveland. How is the Fairgrounds project different and why is it entitled to tax incentives?
How would a youth sports complex compete with high school facilities and suburban mega-centers for baseball and soccer in what appears to be a glutted market?
Where is the tourism element in the plan if state funds are targeted for "Tourism Development Zones"?
If the Kroc Center and developers both want the same location, who wins?
How will the development team keep the University of Memphis from grabbing the lion's share of tax revenues for improvements to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium? What happens to the Coliseum? When will a decision be made? What happens to Fairview Junior High School?
Those questions will do for starters. Situation Normal ...
All fouled up. Diversity in a community and on a governmental body is a good thing, and so is variety of opinion. But between last week's election and the first special meeting this week of the Shelby County Commission, the cacophony of different opinions on the commission got wildly out of hand.
Faced with the necessity of revising the formula for defining five countywide officials, as Ordinance 360 was narrowly rejected by county voters last week, the 12 commissioners present found every way possible to avoid agreement.
Accord broke down over the term-limits issue. Some said the larger vote expected in November would approve either the three-term limit (for the five offices, mayor, and commissioners) rejected last week or no limits at all. Other said their constituents insisted on two terms. In the end, all the body could agree on was a referendum proposal for November saying that the offices — sheriff, trustee, assessor, county clerk, and register, all of which were former constitutional offices invalidated as such by the state Supreme Court — should be re-created under the county charter.
But even that restatement lost a vote between the time the commissioners voted as a committee of the whole and their reconvening as the commission per se.
Can Shelby County do without these offices? No. We go to press with a hope that a new commission meeting set for Wednesday morning could at least provide a referendum stating the obvious.