Parks Partnership Answers the Internet's Most Burning Questions


Trees, hills, & more in the - Tom Lee Park redesign. - TOBY SELLS
  • Toby Sells
  • Trees, hills, & more in the Tom Lee Park redesign.

The internet asked (and poked, prodded, and roasted) the Mississippi River Parks Partnership (MRPP) about Tom Lee Park. On Friday, MRPP answered.

For weeks, Facebookers, especially those belonging to a group page called “Save Tom Lee Park and The Festivals” have accused the MRPP from benefiting financially from the new park design and of allowing Mud Island to fall into disrepair, pointed out that they’ve not received permit for the new park design from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and much more.


MRPP spokesman George Abbott (who was not allowed to join the Save Tom Lee Park Facebook group) answered these questions and concerns with a Friday blog post on Medium.

”In early February as the programmatic design phase came to a close, the model for the new Tom Lee Park was unveiled,” Abbott wrote. “Thousands have visited the model, read the history, reviewed the test fits for Memphis in May, experienced the new park in virtual reality, and left us their feedback at the engagement center.

Thousands more have only seen parts of the plan online. We’ve heard a lot of good feedback  —  as well as some (more) good questions.”
With that, Abbott launched into answers from some the most frequently asked questions.

We’ll save you some time here with the short answers. But if you’re curious about the park plan at all, Abbott’s Medium piece is required reading. (And, if you can, join the Save Tom Lee Park group on Facebook. Tons of interesting discussions going on there.)

Q: Does the design have the required permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

A: Can’t yet. Need a more-final plan.

Q: Why not invest in Mud Island Park first?

A: Tom Lee Park will give the most bang for the buck.

Q: Why narrow Riverside Drive to two lanes?

A: People drive too fast there today (47 miles per hours average), and there are too many wrecks.

Q: But, isn’t Riverside Drive a key connection to Downtown?

A: Not as much as you think.

Q: Will I still be able to see the river?

A: Yes.

Q: Even while driving down Riverside Drive?

A: Yes.

Q: Does the new design really have enough space for major festivals and events, like Memphis in May?

A: Yes.

Q: Is this new design going to add concrete and remove green space from the park?

A: No. It’ll add more.

Q: Why is the project so costly?

A: It’s cheaper than most projects like this.

Q: Do board members benefit financially from the work of the Partnership?

A: No.

Soon after the piece published Friday, Facebooker JDe DeHart posted the article to the Save Tom Lee Park Facebook group.

“Don’t know if this has been posted but their PR machine is fast at work daily,” DeHart wrote. “All vague and Mud Island is easier to get to than [Tom Lee Park].

“And why is [Mud Island] stuck in 1982? Because MRPP managed it for 20 years without driving revenue, putting back into infrastructure, and basically failing on our partnership for them to manage it. Tell us why it failed the last 20 years. Did Benny cut [the] wrong deal with Beaver? Did Trey not operate it well?

“But here they are wanting to manage [Tom Lee Park] for us and that 100 million. Absolutely it’s a money grab for them to get that TDZ 40 million. Unbelievable. #focusonmudislandfirst”

Another group member, Anthony Howell, suggested staging a “peaceful protest” to block the planned renovations.

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