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Greenprint grant fuels study of riverfront possibilities for West Memphis

As plans for a pedestrian and bicycling bridge connecting downtown Memphis with West Memphis via the Harahan Bridge move forward, a nagging question surfaces from time to timeai??i??what will bikers and walkers do when they get to the west side? A study funded with federal Housing and Urban Development dollars is preparing to provide some possible answers to that question.

The University of Memphis Division of City and Regional Planning is embarking on a planning process, in collaboration with the Office of Planning and Development in West Memphis, to ensure that the city is positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities that result from the Harahan project. The Main to Main Multi-Modal Connector Project will add a boardwalk-like a attachment to the bridge, now used solely by Union Pacific Railroad, connecting West Memphis to the South Main area in Memphis and ultimately to Uptown Memphis.

With $50,000 awarded in November from HUD funds earmarked for the Mid-South Greenprint and Sustainability Plan, the West Memphis project team is considering ideas for the development of an ai???Eco-Parkai??? on the west side of the Mississippi River. The plan proposal includes suggestions for a system of trails, an education center, outdoor education spaces, exhibits and interpretive panels and a series of recreational spaces that would include areas equipped to host food trucks and stands for fairs and events.

During the Fall 2013 semester, project leader Antonio Raciti, a visiting assistant professor in the U of Mai??i??s city planning department, directed two graduate classes that engaged in the early planning process. In the spring semester, two of Dr. Racitiai??i??s classes will collaborate to work with a steering committee and West Memphis residents to develop specific designs and elements of the park.

The project is in early planning stages now and the team is scheduling meetings for public input on background, planning and design during the first few months of 2014. A proposed master plan is set to be presented in a public meeting the first week of June 2014.

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. Read more about the Mid-South Greenprint. Other projects taking advantage of sub-grants from the federal funds include a plan to design a connection between Sears Crosstown and the V&E Greenline.

Read more about the grant on the Mid-South Greenprint site and more on the Eco-Park plan from The Commercial Appeal.

Ward Wimbish
Director, Economic Development

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