The August 23rd Panel Discussion was well attended- nearly 90 individuals were there to hear about plans for the Parkway- the “Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement” (SFEIS). They heard about the plans, and the objections.
John Cameron, Director of Engineering for Memphis, talked about the Parkway as part of a desire to have a network of roads to handle traffic, rather than relying on a few large roads (like a 16 lane freeway in Atlanta). He also showed some of the design concepts being considered for the road to make it park friendly. Mr. Cameron’s presentation is here.
Laura Adams, Executive Director of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, presented an overview of the Park’s Masterplan, and many of the positive things going on in the park. She also joked with John each time he mistakenly referred to “The Park” as “The Farms” (which it was called some time ago). She also reviewed the Conservancy’s position on the Parkway design, and how the city engineers are working to address their issues. Ms. Adams’ presentation is here.
Dennis Lynch, Transportation Chair for the local Chickasaw Group of the Sierra Club, was next. He presented details on some of the reasons the Sierra Club objects to the current plan for the road- including risk to the aquifer (Memphis’ great water supply) and the floodplain, building an interchange immediately adjacent to the leaching landfill, plus the need to consider a less expensive, less impactful alternative. Financial issues and the tight restrictions of Section 4(f) regarding building a highway across a park were also highlighted. Mr. Lynch’s presentation is here.
Brian Waldron, Director of the Ground Water Institute at the University of Memphis, talked briefly about some of the aquifer and floodplain issues related to the roadway, and related information which he has provided to the project’s planning team.
Gregg Elliott, a resident of Shelby Place (a neighborhood just North of the Park) expressed concerns about maintaining and enhancing access to the Park from the north, as well as protection of the Park’s pastoral character and natural resources. She said a neighborhood association survey of original homebuyers indicated that a high percentage (around 90%) indicated proximity to the Park as one of their reasons for buying in that location. Finally, she indicated concern about egress from the neighborhood via Showboat onto Whitten during rush hour, once the planned parkway is completed.
Following the presentations there were a number of good questions which continued until the last possible moment when we had to rush out so they could close the library. I’m going to try to summarize those questions in the near future.
Thanks to all who organized the meeting, and thanks to all who attended.