A Summons to Memphis 2015 - Mayor Mick Cornett

The Memphis Flyer is bringing Mayor Mick Cornett to Memphis to share with us the success stories of Oklahoma City. From the sound of his 2015 State of the City Address, there seem to be many comparisons that can be made with Memphis and lessons we can learn.

Monday (9/14), at 11am, Peabody Hotel's Grand Ballroom. Cost: $50. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

Cities Reinventing a Relationship with Their Rivers

Think what could happen in Memphis if we thought of and planned our riverfront as a system of connected parks and historic sites for citizens to enjoy? 
Seoul. Ljubljana, Madrid, Paris, Qinhuangdao City, Lyon, Bordeaux, Moscow, Singapore, and New York City -- 10 cities that have found ways to improve the quality of life and reintroduce nature sustainably back into the heart of their cities.

Take a look at this article by Yuliya Georgieva posted on the Landscape Architects Network.

Towers on the Bluff?

It's hard to imagine two skyscrapers on the west side of Wagner between Beale and Pontotoc, but that's what the Land Use Control Board (LUCB) will consider on June 11.

As proposed the Towers could be 45 and 35 stories tall and would cut off public access to the Bluffwalk and trolley stop. Planning regulations in the South Main District prohibit the massive scale of development proposed, however staff at the Office of Planning and Development recommends approval.

To some this is desired downtown economic development. To others there are concerns that it is short-sighted development that will block views and radically alter the unique historic charm of the area.  Others favor postponing a vote on the project until adequate drawings and information on the project's seismic, environmental, and economic viability is available.

Created with flickr slideshow.
At 45 stories, the northern tower will be the tallest building downtown and dwarf Waterford Tower (17 stories), Auto Zone Headquarters, Belz Tower, and buildings on Main, Beale, and the adjacent Candy Factory, considered a role-model for S. Main redevelopment. 
Staff Report: Click on project and then on pdf link to download report.
Towers   PD 15-308

Links to newspaper articles: Daily NewsCommercial Appeal


Land Use Control Board Meeting 
Thursday, 10 am, City Hall, City Council Chambers
or comments may be emailed to Troy.frasier@memphistn.gov

Public Access to Bluffwalk & Trolley Stop

Whatever position people take about the Towers being proposed on Wagner at Beale, a seperate but linked item on the Land Use Control Board agenda has met almost unanimous concern and opposition. It's the proposal to close Martin Luther King Blvd. (formerly Linden) to make way for a building and swimming pool between the Towers. 

Currently a tree-lined, cobblestone and concrete pathway, the public right-of-way leads from Wagner west one block to the Bluff's edge. From downtown, It provides important ADA-compliant, public access to the Bluffwalk and riverfront loop Trolley stop.


Staff Report: Click on project and then on pdf link to download report. Public Right-of-Way SAC 15-606

Careers on the River - An Option in Memphis

Memphis is the 4th largest inland port in America, so it makes sense to expose and educate high school students about career opportunities on the River. On Friday Apr. 24, that happened. It was the 1st Annual "Who Works the Rivers" program in Memphis.

100 students toured a Wepfer Marine towboat, took a hike down the "Mini MS riverwalk," visited the MS River Museum @ MI River Park, and met representatives from waterways industries to learn about maritime jobs and careers.

In New York City, there's a full-time version. The Harbor School is a public high school on Governor's Island that offers a maritime curriculum to educate and prepare students in marine science and technology. As Memphis focuses on jobs for the future, the 1-day workshop looks like fun and a great step in that direction.

Sponsors and career fair participants were Wepfer Marine, ACL - American Commercial Lines LLC, Dickson Marine, Economy Boat Store, Fullen Dock and Warehouse, International Port of Memphis, Lucy Woodstock Marine Terminal, Mid-South Community College, The Seamen's Church Institute, Memphis District Corps of Engineers, and United States Coast Guard. Chick-fil-A provided lunch.

Canoe Outfitting & Guiding 101

Interested in starting your own canoe/kayak river business and don't know how or where to start?

A 2-day course, May 2-3 at the University of Louisiana at Monroe will give you the answers.

Participants will learn techniques to safely guide canoeists through local bayous, rivers and lakes; the many challenges and opportunities associated with a nature tourism business; how to proceed in the pursuit of an outfitting business, and more.

No previous canoe experience is required, but participants must be comfortable in water settings, and must be capable of physical exertion, including lifting and loading.

The cost, $199 per person, includes all necessary canoeing gear and printed materials on starting a small business in nature tourism. John Ruskey of Quapaw Canoe Company will teach the course, assisted by Mississippi River Guides Braxton Barden and Mark River.

For more information, or to register for this course, click HERE.

South Main Mosaic Artwalk

Last October, 8 pieces of public art went up in South Main, the perfect addition to downtown's art district. This Friday, after "Hook Up, Clean Up, Bottoms Up," take a stroll and check them out.

Click map to enlarge.
The art is by 13 artists: Jonathan Auger, Brendan Lawton,Ben Avant,Ryan Morris, Chris Hoal, Marcellous Lovelace, Brandon Marshall, Kenny Hayes, The Metal Museum, Nick Pena, Lance Turner, Stephanie Crosby, and Esther Szisk.

Photographs and descriptions are posted on the S. Main Assoc. website.  Click HERE.

South Main Mosaic Artwalk is a Downtown Memphis Commission project.

How appropriate and exciting that this Earth Day 2015, our Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Sustainability Award by the American Planning Association. John Zeanah, Administrator of the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability, accepted the award at the APA conference in Seattle, WA.

The Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan was funded by a $2.6M Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant awarded to Shelby County Government from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in Nov. 2011. From 2012 to 2014, the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability led a consortium of over 80 organizations, among them Friends for Our Riverfront, and 300 individuals toward the development of the Greenprint plan and related studies. The final plan, GREENPRINT 2015/2040, was published in Nov. 2014. For more information or to download the plan, click HERE.

Hook Up, Clean Up, Bottoms Up

This Friday is going to be a great time to be downtown. Come help spiff up the City for Memphis-in-May. Then try your hand at a little bocce while you sip a Ghost River before checking out the S. Main Mosaic Artwalk and all the shops and galleries open for Trolley Night on S. Main. 

America's Most Endangered Rivers - 2015

A list of the 10 rivers whose future is most threatened by critical decisions during the next year, the most endangered rivers report has been compiled by American Rivers each year since 1984. It lists the rivers, summarizes the threats, presents alternatives, identifies crucial decision-makers, and points out opportunities for citizens to take action on behalf of the listed rivers.

Nearest Memphis are the Harpeth in TN (#9) and the Pearl in MS (#10), and wherever we live all Americans feel an affinity with the iconic Colorado in the Grand Canyon, listed #1 in this year's report.

Click HERE for the 2015 report and information on how to help protect our rivers.

Why do Rivers Bend?

The Mississippi is so curvy.

Here are the bends near us - from Blytheville, AR to Clarksdale, MS.

At Memphis -- you can see the 4 bridges and how the River curves up against the Bluff.

It's Thanksgiving -

& the blog, choose901,  has posted 
24 Reasons The World is Thankful for Memphis. It's a fun list of things Memphis has been recognized for during the past year - things about our City we can all brag about. Check it out, HERE.

They've asked people and organizations to add to the list and to tag them. We add

-- the incredible beauty of our natural and publicly accessible riverfront  -- it's something all Memphians can be thankful for. #Thanks901

Canoe for Harbor Clean-Ups, YES!

To date, the Memphis River Warriors have pulled more than 99,000 pounds of trash out of McKellar Lake and Wolf River Harbor!

Now, thanks to a "connection grant" from TN Parks and Greenways Fdn., the generosity of Estie and John Sheahan, and a sweetheart deal from Joe Royer and Outdoors Inc., Friends for Our Riverfront has given Colton Cockrum a canoe to make the work a little lighter and even more mighty.

The canoe is to be tested for river worthiness tomorrow at the McKellar Lake Nov. 15th Clean-Up with plans for her official launch this Spring.

Pelicans Taking a Rest @ Horseshoe Lake

Spotted -- American White Pelicans - migrating along the Mississippi River flyway. They took a break this week at Horseshoe Lake.  Just downstream from Memphis on the Arkansas side of the River, it's an oxbow lake that was once a meander of the Mississippi River. The "horseshoe" is easy to recognize on the model of the River at Mud Island River Park.

"Father of Environmental Justice" to Speak in Memphis

Twenty years after President Clinton’s Executive Order on Environmental Justice,  Dr. Robert Bullard,  often called the father of the environmental justice movement, will be in Memphis to present the keynote address at the annual environmental justice conference. 

This year the “Community Health, Environmental Justice and Clean Energy—A Community Grassroots Conference”  will be held at the University of Memphis in the University Center on Nov 1st.  Dr. Bullard's address begins at  9 am and will be followed by workshops that include one on "Mississippi River Fishing and River Ecology" and lunch.  

The conference, lunch, and parking in the garage at 505 Zach Curlin Street are free, but you must register ahead of time. To register, contact rita.harris@sierraclub.org
or call (901) 324-7757  

For more information on the conference, workshops, and Dr. Bullard, see

Roundabout Link Downtown May Close Bridge for 2 Years

Up on the Bluff are the National Ornamental Metal Museum, Crump Park, U.S. Marine Hospital, Super 8 Motel, Chickasaw Heritage Park,and French Fort Neighborhood. They're south of the "old" bridges in an area that's tricky to reach. Underground, buried beneath the interstate highway, is the once imposing Fort Pickering. In the future is a pedestrian-bike trail across Harahan Bridge to link Memphis and Arkansas.

TN Dept. of Transportation (TDOT) has been working on plans to change the Bridge/I-55/Crump Blvd. interchange and add a roundabout to remedy the confusion and congestion, but last week they revealed that the plan may require shutting down the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge for two years.

According to the TDOT website, the I-55/Crump Boulevard Interchange Improvement Project has gone through the Environmental Phase:
  • March 2009: Complete Preliminary Draft Environmental Statement (DEIS)
  • July 2009: NEPA Hearing
  • August 2009: Review Public Comments
  • November 2009: Decision made to study replacing the existing loop interchange with a roundabout as a way to avoid impacts to the French Fort neighborhood and improve connectivity to Crump Blvd., Riverside Dr., & I-55.
  • June 2010: Public info. meeting held to give the pubic a chance to review and submit comments on the proposed modifications.
  • Sept. 2010: TDOT announced the selection of the alternate plan.
  • January 2012: Environmental Phase of the project concluded. A record of the decision was approved on Jan. 25, 2012.
and is now in the Design Phase, the 4th of 5 stages.

TDOT hopes to let the construction contract by 2014.

Estimated cost of the project: $35.7M, 80% from Federal funds, 20% from State.

Update (10/30/14): TDOT funds cut. Project postponed for a year. Link to Commercial Appeal article.

Baltimore Deals with Litter - Would It work on our Riverfront?

The Memphis River Warriors, along with volunteers from CBU and Bridges, pulled 325 tires out of the McKellar Lake area in Sept. -- 13,000 pounds of trash in all.

The Commercial Appeal reports the 2-year old, $903,000 trash collection system in Wolf River Harbor has broken and needs a $150,000 fix.

Wonder if one of these would work in Memphis - @ McKellar Lake and/or Wolf River Harbor?
As Colton Cockrum, University of Memphis professor and adviser to the River Warriors, says “Eighteen million people get their drinking water from the Mississippi River, and so we have 18 million reasons to do the right thing,”

For more about the solar-powered water wheel, click HERE.

Grizzlies Pop-Up Fitness Trail Opens along River in Tom Lee Park


When you see the smiles or catch a sunset in Tom Lee Park, it's hard to believe that in 1997, the City planned to allow residential development of this park.  Today it covers about 30 acres, much of which is landfill added in 1977 to stabilize the Bluff and create the grand expanse that holds Memphis in May events. The park was again expanded in 1993, and recently several acres were added for Beale Street Landing.

Thanks to the Grizzlies and BlueCross BlueShield, a wonderful, new pop-up fitness trail now stretches along the shoreline, and there's a beach volleyball court, too. Designed by Askew, Nixon, Ferguson the trail is on trial, so be sure to go down, check it out, and GetRiver Fit!

"What if we start Seeing Memphis as Green & Growing?"

That's what Ed McMahon, Senior Fellow at the Urban Land Institute and Director of Land Use Planning for the Conservation Fund, recommended in Memphis a couple of weeks ago. 

Conservation of our natural resources, economic development, and prosperity go hand-in-hand he told audiences, and a couple of events this week show how Memphis is heading in that direction.  

Thoughts about economic development have changed McMahon pointed out. Today people are attracted to a place by beauty, recreation, and a family friendly environment, and cities, developers, conservation organizations, and landowners see that protecting natural resources is good for development. Homebuyers pay premium prices to live near nature and open spaces. This is about creating a place where people want to live, a city that is growing. 

"The 1st step is to figure out where not to develop, for instance places like a shore line, steep slope, or floodplain. If you figure out where not to develop, that points out where to develop," McMahon said. Views are important, too; locally you can ask anybody with a view of the River or a golf course, and they'll second that.

Green & Growing - Events this Week:
* Opening, Grizzlies Pop-Up Fitness Trail on the Riverfront in Tom Lee Park - Wed., 5-7 p.m.
* Public Presentation, Greenprint Plan for the Region - Thurs., 5:30-7 p.m., Hooks Main Library
McKellar Lake Clean-up with Memphis River Warriors, Sat. 10 am
Greenway Soiree benefitting Wolf River Conservancy, Sat. 6-9 pm, Wolf River 

Click HERE for an article by Amos Maki for the Daily News that includes more information about Mr. McMahon's talk.  

"Take Me to the River"

Music, History, Memphis, Genius - and, of course, we love the title. This documentary pairs across generations such musicians as Al Kapone and Booker T. Jones to look for the answer to what makes Memphis music so special. 

Click HERE for a review by Chris McCoy in "The Flyer." 
The film is playing at Malco Paradiso.