Parks partnership says Tom Lee Park changes to start in fall

By Updated: May 14, 2019 5:03 PM CT | Published: May 14, 2019 5:03 PM CT

Memphis River Parks Partnership plans to begin making changes to Tom Lee Park in the fall as the partnership begins a long-awaited renovation of the Cobblestones river landing.

A press release from the partnership says the construction will begin in the fall “once construction documents are complete.”

The fall construction appears to steer clear of most, if not all, of the park used by the Memphis In May International Festival.

The partnership’s original plan for the renovation was to start the work on changing the riverside park as soon as the Memphis In May International Festival ended this month. The work was to continue for about a year and a half, with MIM moving to other Downtown locations for the 2020 festival. The festival favored stopping construction for a month or so to keep the festival in the park.

That was before the partnership and the festival differed on whether the proposed plans to change the park would mean more space or less space for the festival’s biggest events – the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

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The partnership’s plan includes more trees and a contoured park with a goal of more year-round use of the park that would coexist with the needs of the festival.

Since the public difference earlier this year over square footage, both sides have been in a mediation process overseen by former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Janice Holder with a gag rule on those involved.

The mediation continues with Tuesday’s announcement.

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The plan is for the partnership’s work in the park this fall to work with the Cobblestones project construction in a move a partnership press release says would “minimize disruption to Riverside Drive.”

If the park work is near the cobblestones, it would also be largely if not completely away from the area of the park that is used by the festival.


Memphis River Parks Partnership Memphis In May Tom Lee Park Cobblestones
Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.

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