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West Memphis part of Mid-South push to make going green easier

Area leaders and green advocates from across the Mid-South gathered in West Memphis on March 21 to further the cause of building and connecting a network of livable, sustainable communities.

The March consortium meeting of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan < gathered at the Eugene Woods Civic Center to discuss how major plans for area trails and growing trends in green planning for communities will effect residents of East Arkansas, West Tennessee and Northwest Mississippi. About 120 participants were in attendance.

"We're looking at how we develop cities and how we can do it more sustainability," said West Memphis Planning Director Paul Luker. “We’re focusing on getting a way from sprawl.”

The Greenprint and Sustainability Plan is the result of a $2.6 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant awarded to Shelby County in late 2011. The plan is designed to enhance regional livability and sustainability by establishing a unified vision for a region-wide network of greenspace areas, or Greenprint, which serves to address long-term housing and land use, resource conservation, environmental protection, accessibility, community health and wellness, transportation alternatives, economic development, neighborhood engagement, and social equity in the Greater Memphis Area.

The regional Greenprint will include everything from parks and walking trails to wildlife management areas and community gardens.

“They’re looking at a system of greenways and blue ways – trails and streams that will allow people to go from state to state, from neighborhood to neighborhood, from home to school or work- all without having to use an automobile,” Luker said. “But this meeting in West Memphis was a gathering of smaller working groups some dealing with housing, some with greenways, some with trails.”

The East Arkansas Planning and Development District received a similar grant in the same amount, Luker says, which is primarily focused on strategic economic development. West Memphis will benefit from both projects, he said, but the Greenprint and Sustainability Plan has a broader reach.

At the plan’s heart is the Greater Memphis Greenline, a network of walking and bike trails that will one day connect communities from the far reaches of eastern Shelby County, across Memphis and into Eastern Arkansas. That last leg will take shape with the completion of the Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Projector, which will connect downtown Memphis to Broadway in West Memphis via the Harahan Bridge.

Ward Wimbish
Director, Economic Development

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