There's a public meeting with Councilman Jim Strickland about the fairground plans this Thursday, Nov. 12th at 5:30 pm at Young Ave. Deli. Alex Turley in Cooper Young is concerned about the city's more recent plan for the fairgrounds (with a green space promenade, ball fields, residential, and smaller retail opportunities) and has organized this meeting to let the neighborhood voice its desires. Alex is Henry Turley's nephew, and he supports his uncle's plan, which originally had the blessing of the city before the more recent option emerged. Turley would like to build the fairgrounds around an athletic complex for regional youth sports (to complement the focus of the Kroc Center) and a larger retail component, with hotels and larger stores, ideally a Target and grocery store.
I see good things in both plans. Like many Midtowners, I would love to see a quality grocery move in (Trader Joe's would be my first choice, or a Whole Foods or Fresh Market), and I've wanted a Target for years. However, the Turley plan does not seem to allow for much, if any, free green space. His green space is planned for ball fields and other programmed activities. I love the newer plan's idea of a long green promenade from East Parkway to the Coliseum that would double as tailgating, a la the Grove in Oxford, for football weekends.
Memphis is toward the bottom of the nation on percentage of parkland in its city area. We have only 5.1% of our space devoted to parkland (a large chunk of which is in one place at Shelby Farms), where Albuquerque, N.M. has 30%. New York has 19.6%, Washington, D.C. has 19.4%, and Austin, TX has 16.3%. I'd hate for several hundred acres of publicly held land to be divvied up without any green space reserved for park space.
I was at a meeting with Henry Turley about this plan last week, and he doesn't have a full plan laid out on paper. He wants community input before making a final plan. He seemed very open to ideas about enviornmental issues such as reducing light pollution from ballfield lights and including storm water retention -- the problem with redevelopment is that Overton Park is already threatened with invasive engineering projects aimed to fix flooding in this same already-at-capacity watershed. Any plan approved has got to be environmentally sound so as not to add runoff in an already flood-prone area.
Anyway, that's my wish list. Go make your own wish list known Thursday night.