Riverfront, bike lab, & bills 

A new task force, a new grant, and the legislature targets abortion and gays.

Task force for the riverfront

A task force will soon be convened to guide the next stage of development for the Memphis riverfront, a move that comes as riverfront officials have hired consultants to establish a new plan for that development.

The group will handle what Benny Lendermon, president of the Riverfront Development Corp. (RDC), called some of the "hot button" and "volatile" issues on the riverfront, giving Riverside Drive, Tom Lee Park, and Mud Island as examples.

The group will also work with Studio Gang, a Chicago-based consulting firm, as it drafts the comprehensive "Riverfront Concept Plan."

South Memphis becomes "bike lab"

South Memphis will become a laboratory for bicycle infrastructure over the next three years thanks to a newly won grant from national bike advocacy group PeopleForBikes.

Memphis was one of 10 cities selected for the Big Jump Project. The program hopes to double or triple bike ridership in specific neighborhoods over three years by building and connecting bike networks.

The win will bring the equivalent of $200,000 in technical support from PeopleForBikes and $50,000 in matching funds or commitments from local organizations.

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Abortion bills filed

Two abortion bills were filed in the state house last week, both dealing with abortion ban limits.

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver revived her bill from last year that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Rep. James Van Huss filed a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat is detected and would require fetal heartbeat testing prior to the procedure.

"However individuals might feel about abortion at different points in the pregnancy, a woman's health — not politics — should drive this very important medical decision," said Choices' executive director, Rebecca Terrell.

"Massive" boat on the riverfront

A "massive" boat has moored on the cobblestones of the Memphis riverfront, and some would like to see it gone.

Benny Lendermon, president of the Riverfront Development Corp. (RDC), said last week the boat is the newest acquisition of William Lozier, owner of Memphis Riverboats. The boat is 60 feet tall and about 275 feet long. Its size has caught the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard, which is concerned that the boat blocks the harbor.

The boat is a former casino (its windows are painted on), and Lozier plans to fix it up and have parties in its "massive" rooms, Lendermon said.

Lozier has until the end of the month to clear up his issues with the boat, but Lendermon said he hopes Lozier finds another home for it, away from the riverfront.

Suit filed against TVA wells

The local chapter of the Sierra Club and a local advocacy group called Protect Our Aquifer (POA) filed a legal challenge Tuesday afternoon to the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) plan to drill wells into the source of Memphis' drinking water.

TVA has permits in hand to drill five wells into the Memphis Sand aquifer and take 3.5 million gallons per day of the famously pure water to cool its new energy plant.

The two groups appealed to the Shelby County Groundwater Control Board in November to stop the issuance of two of the permits. The Sierra Club and POA lost the appeal but discussed legal action.

Tuesday's suit was a formal, legal appeal of the that decision to the Shelby County Chancery Court.

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