Friday, July 26, 2019

Mayor: Memphis in May Will Return to Tom Lee Park Next Year

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Sunset over Tom Lee Park - CHRIS MCCOY
  • Chris McCoy
  • Sunset over Tom Lee Park

Memphis in May (MIM) will be held in Tom Lee Park next year and Riverside Drive will remain a four-lane street, according to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

Original plans had park renovations starting right after the festival concluded this year. The original construction timeline was 18 months. That, most likely, meant MIM would have been held in another location in 2020.

In the original plan from the Memphis River Parks Partnership (MRPP), Riverside would have been shrunk to two lanes. This, MRPP leaders said, would slow traffic on the street and provide more green space in the park.

In his weekly email to constituents, Strickland laid out a bullet-point list of facts on Tom Lee Park as “misinformation abounds in the public conversation around this issue, so allow me to set a few things straight today. 
click to enlarge jim_strickland_750xx1125_1561492468.jpg

“My vision is to craft a better Riverfront for all Memphians,” said Strickland, whose Riverfront Development Task Force was the catalyst for much of the change planned there. “That includes an improved Tom Lee Park and a better-than-ever Memphis in May.

“My commitment has been clear: a Tom Lee Park that will enable the Memphis in May International Festival to continue to thrive for decades to come and will better serve Memphians the other 11 months out of the year.”

Here’s Strickland’s list of facts about the riverfront:

• We’re currently mediating the future layout of Tom Lee Park — not whether Memphis in May will remain in Tom Lee Park.
I’ve always been committed to Memphis in May in Tom Lee Park, and said so as recently as this space in May. The parties involved in crafting the future layout are Memphis in May, the Memphis River Parks Partnership, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and us (the city).

• Memphis in May will be held in Tom Lee Park in 2020. In 2021, it will be held at an alternate site to accommodate construction in the park. The festival will return to the park in 2022 and will be at home there for years to come.

• Riverside Drive will remain a four-lane street. We will incorporate speed-limiting designs in the final product, because we want the street to enable better access to the park.

click to enlarge Trees, hills, & more in the - Tom Lee Park redesign. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Trees, hills, & more in the Tom Lee Park redesign.

• In addition to providing new amenities for citizens, the proposed renovations to Tom Lee Park will improve the infrastructure for Memphis in May.

• No city money from our general fund or capital improvement budget will be used — meaning that not a cent of this will impact service delivery like police and fire. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t understand or is trying to mislead you on purpose.
The city is routing $10 million in sales taxes in the Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) that would otherwise have gone to the state of Tennessee. The remaining money for the park would come from Shelby County, the state of Tennessee, and private sources.

Strickland asked Memphians to “think of the vision.”

“When it’s done, we’ll have a world-class park that’s a front door for visitors and a back yard for Memphians,” he said. “Let’s not limit ourselves. We can have a Tom Lee Park that both enables Memphis in May to thrive and sparks more enjoyment for Memphians the other 11 months a year. It’s not an either-or.”

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