Friday, April 30, 2010

Businessman Joe Royer talks about the importance of parks

The finish line of the Outdoors, Inc. Canoe and Kayak Race

Joe Royer, local kayaker, bicyclist, and co-owner of Outdoors, Inc., has written a wonderful guest editorial this week in the Flyer about how well-maintained parks contribute to the overall success of a city. Joe has spent decades fighting an uphill battle in Memphis to promote outdoor activities and the parks that host them.

Many city leaders do not see this as one of the important issues in Memphis, and it is their short-sightedness that lands us at the bottom of so many negative national lists. The RDC, for example, is in charge of our riverfront, but they seem to be purely interested in large, land-based capital projects, not in improving access for watersports. The river is Memphis' only wilderness adventure, and we should be promoting it and making access to it easy. Instead, the RDC closes boat ramps, wants to rip-rap the cobblestones, and is constructing a huge new flagship boat facility to serve now-defunct companies while making no provision for smaller watercraft.
photo by Joe Royer of Elmore Holmes on a wintry morning

Memphis has had a similar short-sightedness about our parks, letting developers and city building projects nibble away our parks bit by bit. This is why it is so crucial to get an easement that will protect all the remaining open green space in Overton Park. I have hopes that Mayor Wharton will make positive strides in both maintenance and protection for our parks. We'll see what priorities his proposed budget will contain.

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