New Group Seeks to "Save Memphis in May"



A new website has emerged from a group that wants “to give a voice to Memphians who are concerned about rushing into” the redesign of Tom Lee Park and to “save” Memphis in May (MIM).

Memphis River Parks Partnership’s (MRPP) proposed redesign of the park has sparked concern among many, including MIM leadership, that the new park plan would negatively affect the month-long festival.

The new group identifies itself as Who are they? They never really say.

“Let’s start with who we aren’t,” reads the description on the website. “We are not employed by or affiliated with the Memphis in May International Festival, the Memphis Tourism Board, or any other established civil entity.

“We are merely a few concerned Memphians who love the Memphis In May International Festival, and enjoy our waterfront.”

The site’s main function is to give its visitors an easy way to send Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis City Council members a form letter that says the sender is ”someone who is deeply concerned for the future of Tom Lee Park and the Memphis in May International Festival.”

That letter claims the new plan “looks beautiful” but it also lays out a raft of concerns about it.

Here’s a few of those concerns straight from the letter:

• Lack of a true dedicated logistics/emergency personnel artery

• Insufficient “alleyways” between barbecue booths for crowds, construction crews, and load-in

• Abundant grass-only high-traffic areas that will be reduced to impassable mud

• Insufficient space allocated for barbecue awards/judging infrastructure

• Will not accommodate existing crowds for music fest, or team booths for barbecue fest.

• Lack of long-term funding for maintenance and security/safety

The site also lays out a number of claims about the MRPP and its plan.

In a section called “capacity issues,” the SaveMIM group says “MRPP's proposed MIM layout includes unrealistic numbers to hide its flaws.” On “logistical oversights,” the group claims “MRPP’s plan places a large number of booths facing narrow grass walkways that are not capable of supporting this traffic.”

In another action called "Safety Shouldn’t Be An Afterthought,” SaveMIM claims the MRPP “proposal lacks a defined security or maintenance plan.” The group further says MIM is a huge money-maker and the new design would hurt local businesses.

The group says the plan also excludes a “judging tent, festival operations, and a large stage for awards and entertainment like Ms. Piggy Idol and live concerts.” The group also says MRPP has raised only half of the money for the project and wonder if taxpayers will “be stuck with the tab for the balance.”

The site was apparently designed by a firm called Gravity Interactive Marketing and Social Media.

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