Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on the feud over the redesign of Tom Lee Park.
As civic disputes go, the one involving a revamp of Tom Lee Park may not rank as all-out feud. But the differences are ongoing. Both sides seem to be digging in. Which means a calmer voice is needed to move the negotiations forward. And the city has found the right one in retired state Supreme Court justice Janice Holder. She has been tapped to mediate the dispute over redesign of the Downtown park.
The Memphis River Parks Partnership, which is responsible to maintaining the city’s public spaces downtown, wants to transform Tom Lee Park into a more user-friendly site with trees, sloping hills, and other niceties. The work is scheduled to begin in June.
But organizers of the Memphis in May International Festival fear those plans will hurt festival events next year, notably the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Memphis in May officials insist alternate sites for those events are not suitable. Hence the current impasse.
Without question, Memphis in May is one of this city’s most important events, if not the most important. But the River Parks Partnership deserves support for its effort to make Tom Lee Park attractive year-round.
I believe a solution can be found that may not make either side completely happy but will benefit the entire community. And if anyone can help get to an amicable resolution, Janice Holder can. And that’s my point of view.