A makeover for the Memphis River front with big changes could be a huge economic and tourist boost for the city. Local 24 political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view.
One of the most visible spots in the landscape of downtown Memphis is about to undergo a major revamp. And if all goes as planned, Tom Lee Park will look significantly different, and remarkably better.
The Memphis River Parks Partnership, formerly called the Riverfront Development Corporation, unveiled the groundbreaking plans, and I mean that literally, to its board on Tuesday. Among the changes will be numerous shade trees, small hills and other amenities that will make Tom Lee Park look more like a smaller Overton Park than the flat, open air terrain that it is now.
What’s more, the park will still accommodate all of the Memphis in May International Festival events, including the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking contest.
Why do all this? Simple; to get more year-round public use out of a valuable piece of public land at the city’s front door. It fits perfectly with the vision of Carol Coletta, the new president and CEO of the River Parks Partnership, which is to make all public spaces downtown more accessible and user friendly. The estimated $45 million price tag to remake the park will come from private donations and city capital improvement funds.
Even though artist renderings of the park’s new look will undoubtedly draw critics, this is a change for the better. And here’s hoping that the project moves forward swiftly.