Congratulations on the superb story about the Overton Park forest ("Out of the Woods," August 14th issue).
Landscape architect Ritchie Smith was quoted as saying the park had routine traffic gridlock in 1986. It is our understanding that Smith was working on a plan at that time to add more roads to make the park an extension of city streets. We felt at the time that Smith was a part of the problem. However, our forest preservation group was able to stop the intrusion. Smith also prepared the zoo master plan.
Zoo president Chuck Brady also was quoted as saying that "all zoos have to be protected by fenced barriers," as if the zoo owned the 17 acres of forest in question. In fact, the people of Memphis own the 17 acres. The zoo cut four acres of the forest in a secretive and shameful maner and simply cannot be trusted to care for any part of the forest.
I would also like to correct my statement in the article. I failed to make clear my comment about the black cherry living 500 to 700 years. The reference was to two yellow poplar trees near the cherry tree. The poplars are about 200 years old but could live 500 to 700 years. However, the cherry tree is one of the larger of its species.
Thanks again for the well-written article. It was a needed service for the people of Memphis.
I am convinced that if landscape architects Ritchie Smith and Lissa Thompson had not stepped in in 1986 and prevented the zoo from expanding into the greensward and taking Rainbow Lake, Overton Park would have been ruined. Their Overton Park master plan saved these priceless amenities of the crown jewel of the Memphis park system.
In fact, the master plan, the first comprehensive assessment of the park since its inception in 1901, was designed to "improve the quality and condition of various recreational spaces within the park [and] create more effective management practices, especially for the historic and forest resources." In other words, forest preservation should take precedence over any other consideration. The ecological integrity of the forest is paramount in the master plan and should never be compromised.
Mary Cashiola's column (In the Bluff, August 21st issue) makes very clear the frightening link between Section 8 housing vouchers and increased crime rates in new transitional neighborhoods. As was also pointed out in a recent Atlantic magazine article cited by Cashiola, as we've "deconcentrated" poverty, we've also deconcentrated crime, much to the detriment of the majority of our citizens.
The incredibly high foreclosure rates that were also pointed out in the column will have a spiraling negative effect on the future of this city and many neighborhoods that have long been thought of as "decent." The impending "storm" of foreclosed houses has yet to hit full force, but it's coming — to a neighborhood near you.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I am writing to express my great gratitude to our Tennessee congressional leaders.
I am a college student at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a six-year childhood cancer survivor. I am extremely fortunate to be alive and cancer-free. Every school day, 46 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer. One in five children diagnosed does not survive, and the four who do survive often endure lifelong physical, educational, and emotional effects as a result of their treatment.
Our Tennessee congressional leaders played an influential role in the recent passing of the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Act, which will delegate governmental funds for childhood cancer research. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to Congressmen Marsha Blackburn, Steve Cohen, David Davis, John Duncan, Bart Gordon, and Zack Wamp for becoming co-sponsors and avid supporters of the act, as well as Congressmen Jim Cooper, Lincoln Davis, and John Tanner and Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker for joining the others and voting for the act.
I feel blessed to live in Tennessee and to have been treated and cured of my cancer at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. With these new funds, research efforts to help find a cure will continue, and one day all children can have their life back, just like me.