Thursday, November 21, 2002

City Attorney's Private Cases, Including Jones, Raise Little Concern

Commercial Appeal
By Blake Fontenay

As troubles continue to mount for former county mayoral aide Tom Jones, his attorney Robert Spence has been getting lots of media exposure.

Which may lead some observers to wonder: How can Spence, the Memphis city attorney, be involved in a case that deals with spending on county-issued credit cards?

Municipal attorneys elsewhere are often forbidden from doing outside legal work. But in Memphis, allowing the city attorney to maintain a private practice on the side is a longstanding tradition.

Mayor Willie Herenton acknowledges that Spence, who earns $109,064 annually, works under an unusual arrangement - and one that he's thought about changing.

Yet he and most of the City Council members interviewed by The Commercial Appeal say they aren't concerned about Spence's decision to represent Jones.

The former county mayoral aide is under a criminal investigation for using a county-issued credit card for private purchases. Jones said he's repaid all the expenses that weren't work-related.

The case has at times put Spence at odds with Shelby County Attorney Donnie Wilson. Last month, Spence wrote Wilson a blistering letter, essentially accusing county officials of piling up unwarranted charges against Jones.

It's a change from last year when Wilson and Spence worked together on the negotiations that brought the Grizzlies to Memphis.

Wilson declined to comment on how the Jones case might impact his future dealings with the city's attorney.

Most council members say they aren't worried about any possible tensions between the attorneys affecting their ability to work together.

"Lawyers can have a significant disagreement in the morning and then have lunch together and enjoy each other's company in the afternoon," said Councilman Jack Sammons. "Lawyers have a way of compartmentalizing disagreement."

But Councilman E. C. Jones said he's uncomfortable with Spence representing a former county mayoral aide because the city and county do work closely on many issues, sometimes as allies and sometimes as adversaries.

"I don't think a city attorney should be representing someone from the city or the county," Jones said.

"I've got a problem with the city attorney practicing law out there,'' he added. "It would be like the police chief running a private security company."

Generally speaking, Herenton said he's very pleased with Spence's performance since he replaced former city attorney Monice Hagler in 1997.

For example, Herenton said, Spence's work on those arena lease negotiations with the Grizzlies basketball franchise was "superb."

For his part, Spence says his duties as city attorney always come ahead of those in his private practice with the Hardison Law Firm.

Spence, 45, estimated that he spends about 80 percent of his time on city business, although the amount varies from week to week.

"I may go a month and never visit my law firm,'' Spence said. "Then I might go into my law firm two days in a row. It depends on what's going on."

When Spence was hired by the city, it was understood at the time that he would be allowed to continue his private practice.

Rick Masson, the city's chief administrative officer, said Spence isn't required to work a set number of hours for the city each week, provided he takes care of his responsibilities.

The city's rules do prohibit Spence from using city resources while he's doing outside legal work, though.

"It's a pretty broad-based conflict-of-interest policy,'' Masson said.

Spence said he never conducts private business from his office at City Hall. However, he said the converse is sometimes true.

He keeps a city computer at Hardison and occasionally asks lawyers there to advise him or assist with research on city matters.

Even if there weren't a rule against it, Spence said "I don't think I'd feel comfortable discussing a private practice issue with other lawyers at the city."
Although the city outsources some of its legal work to private attorneys, Spence said he's never referred a case to Hardison. Doing so would require approval from Masson and the council.

Spence said he is still involved in one case in which the city hired Hardison before Spence became city attorney.

Spence said he doesn't bill the city extra for that case, which involves a wrongful death lawsuit against city paramedics.

When the council confirmed Spence's appointment, four members were concerned enough about potential conflicts of interest to vote against him.

Councilman Brent Taylor said he was opposed to Spence's nomination in 1997 because he didn't like the idea of a city attorney dividing his time.

However, Taylor said he's never observed any conflicts since Spence took the job.
Taylor said he's sought help on several legal issues since the Jones case began - without detecting any dropoff in Spence's job performance.

"The situation does warrant monitoring,'' Taylor said. "The moment it becomes a problem, myself and other council members would raise that issue with the mayor. It has not been a problem to date."

Other council members said they don't see a conflict.

Said Councilman John Vergos, himself a nonpracticing attorney: "The problems he's helping Tom Jones with don't have anything to do with the city."

Clifford Pierce, who served as a "part-time" city attorney for 15 years under former mayors Wyeth Chandler and Dick Hackett, said having an outside source of income can actually help a city attorney give independent legal advice without worrying as much about possible political fallout.

Spence declined to discuss his private caseload, other than to say it has diminished considerably since he began working for the city.

Wilson, the county attorney, gets $102,948 annually. He represents the county full time.

And an informal survey found that Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, Indianapolis and Nashville all require their city attorneys to work full-time. In Nashville and Indianapolis, the city attorneys make less than Spence. In the other three cities, the city attorney makes more.

Annual salaries range from a low of $95,480 in Indianapolis to $195,211 in Dallas.

Herenton said he's re-evaluating the way Memphis provides legal services as part of a review of the cost-effectiveness of all the city's operating divisions.

"It is unusual - I recognize that," Herenton said of Spence's dual employment.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Future of Hyneman's Mud Island land remains murky

Memphis Business Journal [link]
by Kate Miller

Three months after an early morning landslide sent tons of dirt into the Wolf River just south of the Auction Street Bridge, the harbor is clear but the future of Kevin Hyneman's 21 acres on Mud Island remains murky.

"As we speak we're still waiting on a report from our geotechnical engineer, which is going to give us the reason for the cause of the failure," Hyneman says. "Once we receive that, then we'll be able to determine exactly what we can do with the property, then seek proposals from different contractors who specialize in this type of problem and they'll do a design-build for going in and actually fixing the problem."

Larry Cooley, principal in the Ridgeland, Miss.-based geotechnical engineering firm Burns Cooley Dennis, Inc., says he is still waiting on some data but a report should be released within a couple of weeks.

"We have determined the cause," Cooley says. "There is a way to remedy that."

He would not give details on either.

Hyneman says the prospect of future litigation is likely the cause of the delay, though no lawsuits have been filed to date.

Hyneman was within 30 days of closing on a sale of the land to a joint-venture development team consisting of Belz-Turley and the Riverfront Development Corp. when the landslide occurred. He had agreed to sell the land for $2.6 million plus interest and 11 city-owned acres on the north end of Mud Island, in an area where he has already built many single-family homes.

Henry Turley and RDC president Benny Lendermon say they are still interested in developing the land, but their future involvement is far from certain. The Harbor Town-like development previously planned might not be possible.

Lendermon says the mudslide actually affected only a very small amount of land in the planned development, possibly seven lots. But while it has a small impact on the total amount of land to be developed, the lost lots could make or break the deal.

"This project wasn't a gold mine to start with," Lendermon says. "It took a lot of time to put this together because the profits were very slim and you had to be very creative to make it work financially for everybody. So, saying that you take a piece out and take some lots out and take away some revenue -- it probably hasn't reduced the cost any -- it makes the situation that much harder to do."

Turley says the partners estimated each of the lots affected by the mudslide to be worth about $175,000 each, or $1.225 million for seven lots. But Turley says if the land where the mudslide occurred isn't developed, then the partners could charge more for the lots behind them since they would have the view of the harbor.

There would be no such way to make up for other costs.

One is the cost of carry, the interest, taxes and insurance payments that Hyneman is currently paying and would be transferred to the new owners. Hyneman has said he pays between $125,000 and $130,000 in interest a year and $20,000 to $25,000 in real estate taxes. The developers will have to carry this cost longer because of the delays.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Alphabet Soup: The city council takes aim at CVB, CCC, RDC, and "quasi-governmental" agencies.

Memphis Flyer (link to original)
By John Branston

The alphabet agencies are about to catch a little flak from the Memphis City Council.

The spark that set off the council's fire was the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau's (CVB) hiring of former Shelby County mayoral aide Tom Jones less than a month after Jones was suspended for using a county credit card for personal items. When Jones was not reappointed by new county mayor A C Wharton, the CVB and its president, Kevin Kane, snapped him up.

Jones will be doing a job in community development that did not previously exist at the CVB. The Commercial Appeal reported that his salary will be approximately $100,000, but Kane said last week it is not that much.

Kane attended Tuesday's council committee meeting where the issue of "quasi-governmental agencies" was pressed most forcibly by council members TaJuan Stout Mitchell and John Vergos. Kane noted that the CVB wasn't created by the city or county and has gotten "not one penny from the general tax fund in 20 years." It does, however, get a dedicated revenue stream from the so-called bed tax on hotel rooms.

The council committee unanimously approved a resolution requiring the "quasis" to regularly provide information about budgets and expenses. The list of agencies is yet to be compiled, but members indicated it will include the CVB, Center City Commission (CCC), Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC), Memphis in May, the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce, and The Orpheum.

Mitchell said she wasn't singling out the CVB or Jones but felt the job should have been posted because "there are a lot of folks looking for jobs and people need to know where the opportunities are." She said she didn't care if "Donald Trump or Donald Duck" gets the job.

"This is just a request for information," she said. "It does not imply that someone will lose funds."

Vergos said some of the agencies are "creating kingdoms" run by a handful of well-connected board members who are hostile to requests for sensitive information but quick to run to the council in time of need.

"They want to all act as if they are independent private corporations," he said, noting that his father, Rendezvous founder Charlie Vergos, was instrumental in setting up both the CVB and the Memphis Development Foundation, which runs The Orpheum.

Turf and jealousy may be factors with the council as well. The alphabet agencies have been grabbing a lot of headlines, and the pay and perks are usually better than they are in government. The city council gets the heat, a modest salary, some of the bills, and a supporting role. Top executives at the quasis tend to be consummate government insiders or, like Jones, former top-level government employees. In recent years, three city and county division directors have moved over to alphabet agencies -- Benny Lendermon and John Conroy at the RDC and Dexter Muller at the chamber of commerce.

Neither Kane nor council members were particularly happy with the term "quasi-governmental agencies." In addition to being a mouthful, it lumps together agencies like the RDC and CCC that were created by elected public officials and organizations like the CVB and chamber of commerce that get most of their operating support from their members.

The resolution adds to the confusion by making it seem that divisions of city government are the target. It says "each division of the City of Memphis that is either dependent on city funds or the approval of same shall provide the Memphis City Council and the chief administrative officer of the city of Memphis copies of their enabling legislation, annual report, 10K form, and personnel policies and procedures" each year.

A handier and more accurate catch-all is "nonprofits," although that has an outdated "food baskets to the needy" connotation. All of the groups the council is interested in are nonprofits, and they are already required by the IRS to file and make readily available to the public an annual Form 990 listing their public purpose, top salaries and benefits, budget, and income and expenses.

Nonprofit organizations, specially created authorities, and quasi-governmental agencies have virtually taken over much of downtown, including the public parks on the riverfront, AutoZone Park, the new NBA arena, The Orpheum, Memphis in May, and dozens of office buildings and apartments to which the CCC's Revenue Finance Corporation holds title, so they can get tax freezes.

Councilman Jack Sammons pointed out that many nonprofit board members serve for altruistic reasons, bring special skills and fresh ideas to the table, and "would be glad to provide us this information."

This is not the first time the accountability issue has surfaced. During the NBA arena debate, state Senator John Ford, a member of the Public Building Authority, argued that the authority and, by extension, the arena could not exist without the enabling legislation and support of the state legislature. Elected officials have made similar comments about the CCC, with the result that several of them now serve on the board.

Vergos said having a city council representative or other elected official on the board of the quasi-governmental agencies doesn't solve the accountability problem if the board is "stagnant" and run by a handful of insiders.

Copyright 1996-2005 Contemporary Media, Inc.

Sunday, June 30, 2002

IRS Form 990: 2001-2002

Here is the RDC's IRS Form 990 for the fical year ended June 30, 2002 [PDF, 625 KB].

Sunday, June 23, 2002

In the Can, Not the Drain, Says Litter Fight Downtown

Commercial Appeal
By Tom Charlier

With a new poster campaign targeting the downtown area, Memphis government and business leaders are reminding residents that litter often turns into water pollution.

The city's Public Works Division and the Center City Commission are launching the anti-litter campaign. It features a poster with a view of the downtown skyline and a litter-strewn storm drain in the foreground. "You only get one chance to make a first impression," it reads.

Some 4,000 of the posters are being distributed to downtown businesses.

The effort is aimed not just at the unsightliness of litter, but the problem of storm water pollution. The impetus for the campaign came largely from a spate of complaints about trash in the Wolf River harbor, which receives storm water runoff from much of downtown.

The problem could stain the city's reputation among tourists, officials say.

"We're really trying to educate merchants about litter and where litter goes if it doesn't go in a receptacle,'' said Memphis public works director Jerry Collins. "Litter finds its way into the harbor during rain events, and I'm sure litter accumulates on streets between rain events."

The city has been planning a more far-reaching solution to the problem of pollution in the harbor. The plan involves the installation of mechanical screens in the Bayou Gayoso Pumping Station to remove trash as it flows toward the harbor. But city officials say they can't proceed with that multimillion-dollar project until a final riverfront development plan is adopted.

In the meantime, crews from the city's general services division have stepped up their street-cleaning operations in the downtown area, officials say.

Copyright (c) 2002 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

City Council resolution adopting the Riverfront Master Plan

Below is the complete text of the City Council resoltion "endorsing and supporting the Riverfront Master Plan as presented.


WHEREAS, the Memphis Riverfront Master Plan is a study of the Mississippi Riverfront Area defined by the Riverfront Development Corporation; and

WHEREAS, the goals of the master plan are to create an active, publicly accessible waterfront; to connect downtown directly to the Mississippi River; to provide a variety of riverfront experiences; and to ensure that the public realm is the most important aspect of the new riverfront; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL endorses and supports the Riverfront Master Plan as presented.

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy and document was adopted, approved by the Council of the City of Memphis in regular session on
Date May 21, 2002
Deputy Comptroller - Council Records

Friday, May 10, 2002

Land Bridge, Yes! The "disadvantages" of the project have been greatly exaggerated.

Memphis Flyer
By Benny Lendermon
[Link to original]

The Riverfront Master Plan is designed to transform the Memphis riverfront into an active, vibrant, world-class waterfront through a combination of subtle and elaborate projects.

The most dramatic project in the Memphis Riverfront Master Plan is the land bridge. The extension of downtown across what is now the slack-water harbor and out to the Mississippi is the largest, most significant part of the plan. It makes possible the creation of a brand-new 150-acre lake and lakefront community on the north and a new active river harbor on the south. Not surprisingly, the land bridge has also generated the most discussion and is the most misunderstood part of the master plan.

As an engineer who was responsible for overseeing numerous major public works projects, including the 24-acre expansion of Tom Lee Park and the building of the Bluffwalk, I understand why citizens are concerned about the process by which the land bridge will be built.

But the construction process -- using fill -- is quite straightforward and has been used many times. In fact, a similar process was used to build the causeway that joins Mud Island at its north end to the city and the Tom Lee Park expansion in 1991. As for the stability of fill, much of Harbor Town is built on fill. And, of course, tens of thousands of people this month enjoyed the land created with fill at Tom Lee Park. So there's no question about the land bridge when it comes to our ability to build it or its stability once we do.

Others believe that the land bridge will not leave sufficient room for a marina. In fact, the east shore of the planned new harbor is large enough to accommodate the boats now docked at the two downtown marinas. The current toe of the slope at the Cobblestones (below where cobblestones are still in existence) will be replaced by a vertical wall which widens the harbor 75 feet on both sides. Even at low water the new harbor will allow docking on both sides, which is not possible today. If the demand is there, we can accommodate almost double the number of boats by building a marina on the harbor's west side.

A few active sportsmen worry that the land bridge will cut off their opportunity to canoe and kayak. Actually, the land bridge increases those opportunities. We'll have safe waters in the two-mile lake and closer access to the Mississippi for those more adventurous. The result is the best of both worlds.

Will the building of the land bridge be inconvenient? Most construction projects are, and this one will likely be no exception. But the fill will come from sand dredged directly from the river, not from dump trucks traveling downtown streets. That will minimize both the inconvenience and the cost of the project.

The rewards for Memphis are clear. The land bridge makes possible an active, exciting marina at the very spot where most visitors go to take in views of the Mississippi -- the foot of Union Avenue. It creates an attractive, clean, stable body of water that will spawn a whole new community to complement Uptown, with continuous public access along its edge. It allows us to preserve the historic cobblestones and yet still make access to the river safe and hospitable to pedestrians. It gives us a way to generate much-needed revenue from appropriate private development to pay for operating and maintaining expanded and upgraded public spaces along the riverfront.

But most significantly, the land bridge will finally connect Memphis to the Mississippi, giving the city a signature identity that few cities in the world can match.

Benny Lendermon, former public works director for the city of Memphis, is president of the Riverfront Development Corporation.

Copyright 1996-2004 Contemporary Media, Inc.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

City Council Meeting (portions)

Here are MP3 audio recordings of riverfront-related portions of the City Council meeting (executive and and public sessions) on May 7, 2002. The discussions evidence Council members' exuberance in a rush to endorse the RDC's Master Plan, which some mention they had just received only the night before.

Click these links to download and listen to the MP3 audio:

Portion of executive session (prior to public session) [MP3, 2.5 MB]
Portion of public Session [MP3, 1.8 MB]

Friday, May 03, 2002

Clear cut, it's not

Plans uncertain for Mud Island tract

Memphis Business Journal [link]
by Kate Miller

Ongoing talks between Kevin Hyneman, Henry Turley, Jack Belz and the Riverfront Development Corp. regarding development on Mud Island have intensified after Hyneman began clearing trees from his 21-acre property south of the Auction Street bridge.

Hyneman, whose development plans caused an uproar last year from several Downtown organizations -- including the RDC -- says he no longer wants to develop the land and is in preliminary negotiations to sell it to a joint venture consisting of the three parties for a Harbor Town-like development.

"That's not something that we'd want to be a part of," Hyneman says. "Not that that won't be nice, but we've got a lot on our plate and that won't be a part of our five-year plan."

All parties emphasize that negotiations and plans are still at a preliminary stage, but Turley has an idea of what such a deal might look like.

Belz-Turley, a collaboration that has worked on numerous other Downtown projects -- most recently Uptown -- would form a joint venture with the RDC.

The RDC would contribute city-owned land such as the property it owns west of Island Drive and south of the Auction Bridge. Belz-Turley would guarantee the loan taken out by the joint venture and contribute to the work and planning of the development.

That loan would pay for the acquisition of the land as well as the costly infill.

The Belz-Turley portion of the venture would also contribute about an acre of land Turley owns on the southeast corner of Auction and Island Drive.

Turley says the development wouldn't be identical to Harbor Town but would be of the same quality. It would most likely be mixed-use with single family and multi-family residential development as well as some office space. A small inn or hotel has even been discussed.

The public-private development would also incorporate public access along the Mississippi and Wolf Rivers, including public trails and green spaces.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

No Land Bridge! The costs, both human and economic, would be unacceptable.

Memphis Flyer
By Thomas Kroll
[Link to original]

If, on May 7th, the city council gives the go-ahead to the Riverfront Development Corporation's master plan without modification, the city of Memphis will start down the path of an expensive, poorly conceived project that will change it forever.

The cornerstone of the project is a land bridge connecting a major section of downtown to Mud Island and creating an artificial lake. RDC's rationalization for this is their conclusion that Memphians have an unfulfilled desire to come to the river. In reality they plan to create approximately 50 acres for some future unknown development and to open many downtown areas to the development of multiresident housing.

The RDC claims that the project will cost less than $300 million. Their estimate is presented as a detailed budget (with estimates down to the dollar level), when in reality it is at best a guess at the true cost. If inflation, the cost of closing and/or moving the many businesses and Coast Guard station located on the harbor, and the cost of bridging over the mainline railroad track are considered, the cost is easily more than double their estimate.

Memphis will lose its vital and active harbor. For 10 years, from the start of construction, the riverfront will be the site of a massive landfill. The fill required would be the equivalent of a large truckload dumped every four minutes, seven days a week, 24 hours per day for four years.Imagine the views from our newly completed Performing Arts Center and the newly landscaped Riverfront Drive during this massive construction effort. Instead of a welcoming waterfront, for years it will be fenced off to allow for construction.

The plan is built around the completion of the land bridge. In fact, 80 percent of the cost of the project (which I estimate to be at least $680 million) is related to closing the harbor and preparing for and building the land bridge.
This results in new land that will cost an unbelievable $11 million per acre. To make the new land competitive for developers, Memphis will have to absorb most of this cost.

Memphis can provide land for growth at a much lower cost.

The impact on downtown is unacceptable. For years, the landfill will be under construction, just when we are beginning to attract new tourists and residents. Once the bridge is in place, we will be looking at a barren 50 acres while the newly filled land settles and developers are found. Special foundations and pilings will be required to overcome the poor ground conditions, further complicating and increasing the cost of construction.

Claims for new jobs created by the land bridge are pure speculation and don't account for the many jobs lost through closing the harbor. The funds used for creating this new land will be unavailable for other developments that have equal job-creation potential.

The environmental impact has not been evaluated. Permits are not in place. The potential requirement for an environmental impact statement is real and could further delay the project, increasing its cost. The creation and maintenance of a large artificial lake has unknown implications, including leaching of pollutants, accelerated algal growth, and groundwater changes.

The eventual result of the land bridge is likely to be the loss of Mud Island Park and Museum, the loss of The Pyramid, and the delay or loss of many other potential waterfront improvements.

There are many projects that would enhance the Wolf River harbor and make the waterfront a more attractive place to visit. These projects would not need to focus on creating more land for development and would not need to compete with the land currently unused in the downtown area.

The plan for a land bridge needs to be stopped now!

Thomas Kroll, a Harbor Town resident, is the retired president of an engineering and consulting firm.

Copyright 1996-2004 Contemporary Media, Inc

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

RDC By-Laws, as revised

Reproduced below is the text of the By-Laws of Riverfront Development Corporation, as revised through April 9, 2002. The text is accurate, but the pagination and formatting does not exactly match the original document. (Click here for a downloadable PDF scanned from the original [994 KB]).


Name and Offices

Section 1. Name. The name of the organization is RIVERFRONT DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION here-in-after referred to as the "Corporation".

Section 2. Offices. The principal office of the Corporation in the State of Tennessee ("the State") shall be located in the City of Memphis. The Corporation may have such other offices as the Board of Directors may determine or as the affairs of the Corporation may require from time to time.

The Corporation shall have and continuously maintain in the State a registered office, and a registered agent whose office is identical with such registered office if required by the laws of the State. Unless otherwise required by the laws of the State, the registered office may be but need not be identical with the principal office in the State, and the address of the registered office may be changed from time to time by the Board of Directors here-in-after referred to as the "Board."

Not-for-Profit Corporation

Not-for-Profit Corporation. The Corporation is not-for-profit-public-benefit established under the Tennessee Non-Profit Act (The ""Act"). The Corporation is irrevocably dedicated to and operated exclusively for non-profit purposes; and no part of the income or assets of the Corporation shall be distributed to or inure to the benefit of any individual.

The purposes for which the Corporation is formed are exclusively charitable, scientific, literary and educational within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) and Section 170 (c) (2) of the Internal Revenue Code, such purposes being more specifically set forth as follows:

(a) To operate exclusively for the benefit of, to assist in the development of, and to carry out the public purposes of the City of Memphis, Tennessee. The Corporation will act in promoting, encouraging, and assisting economic development in the City of Memphis, with a focus on but not limited to Downtown development, by stimulating new capital investment, encouraging revitalization, undertaking the development, improvement and operation of public amenities and public spaces, coordinating public and private economic development strategies, acquiring and holding real property for future development by the public or private sectors, providing financial assistance and advice and otherwise serving to further the social welfare of Memphis, the area and its residents.

(b) To receive, accept, hold, in vest, rein vest, loan and administer any gifts, bequests, devises, benefits of trust (including charitable remainder unitrusts), endowments, funds and property of any sort, without limitation as to amount or value, and to use, disburse, or donate the income or principal thereof for exclusively charitable purposes.

(c) To enter into any contract or agreement necessary or incidental to the accomplishment of the purposes set forth herein above, to pay all costs and expenses associated therewith, and to do and perform all acts reasonably necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Corporation or otherwise permitted by law. Notwithstanding any other provision in the Charter, the Corporation shall not engage in any activity not permitted to be carried out by an organization exempt from federal income tax under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Code.


Classes of Members. The Corporation shall have no members or governing body other than those persons holding positions as Board members or other Officers of the Corporation.


Section 1. Quarterly and Annual Meetings. Quarterly meetings, one of which shall be the Annual meeting, will be held each fiscal year, with the specific dates and months to be set by the Board or the Chairperson of the Corporation. If the election of the Directors, as provided for in these By-Laws, shall not be held on the date designated for the Annual meeting or any adjournment thereof, the Board shall cause the election to be held at a Special meeting of the Directors as soon thereafter as is convenient.

Section 2. Special Meeting. Special meetings may be called, at any time, by the Chairperson, the Vice Chair, the Secretary, or a majority of the Board. No business shall be transacted at a special meeting except as stated in the notice unless by consent of three-fourths of the Directors present, either in person or by proxy.

Section 3. Place of Meeting. Meetings of the Directors shall be held at the principal office or place of business of the Corporation or at such other suitable place convenient to the Directors as may be designated by the Board.

Section 4. Notice of Meeting. Written or printed notice stating the place, day and hour of any meeting of Directors shall be delivered, either personally, electronically or by the Postal Service, to each Director entitled to vote at such meeting, not less than seven (7) nor more than fourteen (14) days before the date of such meeting, by or at the direction of the Chairperson, the Vice Chair, or the Secretary, or the Officers or persons calling the meeting. In the case of a special meeting, or when required by statute or by these By-Laws, the purpose or purposes for which the meeting is called shall be stated in the notice. If mailed, the notice of a meeting shall be deemed to be delivered when deposited in the United States mail addressed to the Director at his or her address as it appears on the records of the Corporation, with first class postage thereon prepaid.

Section 5. Quorum. At least one-half of the regular Directors shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at any meeting of the Board; if less than one-half of the regular Directors are present at said meeting, a majority of the Directors present may adjourn the meeting from time to time without further notice.

Section 6. Manner of Acting. The act of a majority of the Directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the Board, unless the act of a greater number is required by law or by these By-Laws.

Board of Directors

Section 1. General Powers. The affairs of the Corporation shall be managed by its Board. The Board shall have all the powers necessary or appropriate for the administration of the affairs of this Corporation and may do all such acts and things as are not prohibited to the Directors by law, the Articles of Incorporation or these By-Laws. The Officers of the Board shall also be Officers of the Corporation; positions shall include a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson, a Secretary, a Treasurer; and the Immediate Past Chairman; and, the Officers shall be elected by the Board for terms of one year. The President of the Corporation shall be a full-time employee, shall report to and meet with the Board but shall not be a member of the Board.

Section 2. Number. Tenure and Qualifications. The Corporation shall be managed by a Board in accordance with the following:

The affairs of the Corporation shall be managed by the Officers and a Board of not fewer than nine (9) nor more than twenty (20) regular Directors, with the number to serve to be determined from time to time by action of the Board, but by not fewer than one-half of the Directors, as provided for in these By-Laws. The Corporation shall indemnify each Director from and against individual liability to the fullest extent allowed by law, specifically Section 48-58-501 et. seq. of the Tennessee Nonprofit Corporation Act, or the corresponding provisions of any future law.

The organizing Chairman of the Board has been appointed by the Mayor of the City of Memphis doing business as the City of Memphis. The Chairman has appointed six (6) additional Directors and Officers whose appointments are confirmed with the acceptance of these By-Laws of the Corporation on the occasion of its organizational meeting on April 4, 2000, herein dated. All initial appointments are effective for a period of one (1) year or until the first Annual meeting of the Board, whichever occurs first. This initial period of service of the organizing Chairman, other Officers and Directors shall not count as a term of service as to those limited service terms or periods subsequently referred to in these By-Laws. Beginning in 2001, approximately one-third of the Board's elected Directors will be subject to election each year permitting staggered terms.

Subsequently, the Officers and approximately one-third of the regular Directors (members of the Board) shall be elected annually, for terms not to exceed three years, by the Board at the Annual meeting as provided for in these By-Laws. Members of the Board may be re-elected to an additional term, except that no Director shall served more than two three-year consecutive terms (a maximum of six years). Should a member of the Board be elected an Officer of the Board for the last year of his or her second three-year term, that Officer shall be eligible for a second term of one year, in that specific office, as a member of the Board.

At all times, the Board shall include as ex-officio, voting members: the Mayor of the City of Memphis, or his or her designee; the Chairman of the Memphis City Council, or his or her designee; and the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Memphis. The terms of such designated Directors shall coincide with the terms of office of the individual described.

Additional ex-officio, non-voting, Directors may be appointed by the Board, on recommendation of the Chairman, at any Quarterly or Special meeting. Such appointments should be limited in number and used to enhance communications among related public service organizations or agencies that serve the City of Memphis. The terms of such ex-officio, non-voting Directors will be for one year with eligibility for reappointment at the pleasure of the Board.

All other Directors (regular Director) shall be selected from the private sector. A former member of the Board, who has served two three-year terms, may be re-elected to the Board after he or she has not served as Director for a period of at least one term (three years). The Board may act, at any Quarterly or Special meeting, to fill vacancies occurring in an Officers position or on the Board. Members of the Board shall not be salaried nor shall they receive other compensation for services rendered. Out-of-pocket expense reimbursement may be authorized for members by the Board. On recommendation of the Chairman, the President of the Corporation shall be employed by the Board which shall also determine the conditions of his or her employment, salary and other compensations and continued employment.

The Officers of the Corporation, who shall be Directors, as provided by the By-Laws, will be elected by the Directors, in the manner therein set out, and shall serve for one year or until their successors are elected and have qualified. The Directors shall elect the regular Officers of the Board at the Annual meeting for terms of one year.

Section 3. Removal of Directors. At any duly called meeting of the Board, anyone or more of the Directors may be removed, with or without cause, by a vote of two-thirds of the Directors present and voting.

Officers of the Board and the Corporation

Section 1. Officers. The Officers of the Board and the Corporation shall consist of a Chairperson (Chairman), a Vice Chairperson (Vice Chairman), a Treasurer, a Secretary, and the immediate Past Chairperson. Officers shall be elected by the Board and shall hold office until their successors are elected. In addition, the Board may elect one or more Assistant Secretaries, and Assistant Treasurers as it may deem proper.

Section 2. Other Officers and Agents. The Board may employ a President and such other Officers and Agents as it may deem advisable, who shall hold their office for such terms and shall exercise such power and perform such duties as shall be determined from time to time by the Board.

Section 3. Election and Term of Office. The Officers of the Board, who also hold such positions as Officers of the Corporation, shall be elected at the Annual meeting by the Board and may not serve more than two consecutive years in the same office except; however, the founding Chairperson or initial Vice Chairperson, or both may serve as many as three consecutive years in the same office. If the election of Officers is not held at such meeting, such election shall be held as soon thereafter as is convenient. New offices may be created and filled at any Quarterly or Special meeting of the Board Each Officer shall hold office until his or her successor shall have been duly elected and shall have qualified.

Section 4. Removal. At any duly called meeting of the Board, by a vote of two-thirds of the Directors present and voting, anyone (I) or more Officers may be removed by the Board whenever in its judgment the best interest of the Corporation would be served thereby, but such removal shall be without prejudice to the contract rights, if any, of the Officer so removed.

Section 5. Vacancies. A vacancy in any office because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification or otherwise, may be filled by the Board for the unexpired portion of the term.

Section 6. Chairman. The Chairman of the Board shall preside at all meetings of the Board and he or she shall have and perform such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him or her by the Board. The Chair, with the advice and consent of the Board, will appoint Committee Chairs and members.

Section 7. Vice Chairman. The Vice Chairman shall serve as a member of the Executive Committee and, shall, in the absence or disability of the Chairman, perform the duties and exercise the powers of the Chairman and shall perform such other duties and have such other powers as the Board may from time to time prescribe.

Section 8. Secretary. The Secretary shall attend all meetings of the Corporation and of the Board and its Executive Committee and be responsible for maintaining records of the proceedings of these meetings in a book to be kept for those purposes and shall perform like duties for standing committees, if required. He or she shall give or cause to be given notice of all meetings of the Board and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by the Board, under whose supervision he or she shall be. He or she shall have custody of the corporate seal of the Corporation, if any, and he or she or an Assistant Secretary shall have authority to affix the same to any instrument requiring it, and when so affixed, it may be attested by his or her signature or by the signature of such Assistant Secretary. The Board may give general authority to any other Officer to affix the seal of the Corporation and to attest the affixing by his or her signature.

Section 9. Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be responsible for the custody of the corporate funds and securities and shall keep full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements in books belonging to the Corporation and shall deposit all monies and other valuable effects in the name and to the credit of the Corporation in such depositories as may be designated by the Board. The Treasurer shall disburse funds of the Corporation as ordered or allowed by the Board, taking proper vouchers for such disbursements, and shall render to the Board, at regular meetings or when the Board so requires, an account of all his or her transactions as Treasurer and of the financial condition of the Corporation.

Section 10. Immediate Past Chairman. On replacement by a duly elected Chairman, the retiring Chairman may be elected the Immediate Past Chairman of the Corporation. He or she shall serve as a member of the Executive Committee and as Chair of the Nominating Committee. In the absence of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman, the Immediate Past Chairman shall preside at meetings of the Board or Executive Committee.

Section 11. President. The President of the Corporation shall be the Chief Administrative Officer of the Corporation and report directly to the Board. The President shall, in general, supervise the day-to-day business affairs and represent the Corporation in public capacities.


Section 1. Standing Committees. The Corporation shall have the following Standing
Committees: (a) By-Laws Committee; (b) Development Committee; (c) Executive Committee; (d) Finance Committee; and (e) Nominating Committee.

By-Laws Committee. To maintain current, revise and otherwise update the By-Laws and to assist the Directors and Officers in assuring compliance with the By-Laws and Charter of the Corporation, The Board, by resolution, shall appoint a By-Laws Committee of not fewer than five (5) not more than seven (7) regular elected and ex-officio Directors to this Committee. Members of the Committee shall have served for at least one year as a Director and be familiar with the projects, activities and By-Laws of the Corporation. The Membership of the Committee should be staggered with reappointments or new appointments on an annual basis and the total duration of service should not exceed five years.

The Nominating Committee shall recommend a slate of candidates and a Chair for election at the Annual Meeting each year.

Development Committee. At the time of the Annual meeting of the Board and on recommendation of the Chair of the Corporation, the Board, by resolution, shall appoint a Chair and not more than three (3) additional Directors as members of the Development Committee. The Chairman of the Corporation or the Treasurer, or both, would preferably be included as members of such committee. The Chair of the Committee, with the advice and consent of the additional Directors, shall identify not fewer than three (3) nor more than five (5) non Director, private sector individuals whose appointment will be confirmed by the Board or its Executive Committee. AIl appointments shall be for one (1) year; however, on the basis of outstanding service to the Corporation, re-appointment may be made on an annual basis. The Chair of the Development Committee shall serve as a member of the Executive Committee.

The Development Committee shall advise and assist the Directors, the President and other Officers in more specifically defining the purposes, goals and objectives of the Corporation especially as these relate to the art and science of "friend raising and fund raising" programs and activities. To that end, the Committee is expected to propose to the Chair and the Board processes to involve public spirited and philanthropically minded kindred individuals, groups and associations that might individually or collectively assist in enhancing the fiscal and other resources of the Corporation. Specific plans and requests for budget allocations shall be presented for approval to the Board or its Executive Committee and the Chair of the Committee shall regularly report to the Board at the Annual and other Quarterly meetings.

Meetings of the Development Committee may be held at such time and place as may be from time to time determined by the Development Committee upon the giving of notice, personally or by e-mail, telephone, or facsimile (fax) prior to the meeting date.

Executive Committee. The Board, by resolution adopted by a majority of regular Directors in office, shall designate and appoint not fewer than seven (7) nor more than nine (9) Directors and Officers which shall include the Chair, the Vice Chair, the Immediate Past Chair, the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Chair of the Development Committee and the President of the Corporation (ex -officio) to constitute the Executive Committee. The Chairman of the Board shall recommend non-mandated appointees (including an Assistant Treasurer or an Assistant Secretary, or both); and, he or she shall preside at all meetings of the Executive Committee except that in his or her absence the Vice Chairman will preside. In the absence of the Chair and the Vice Chair, the Immediate Past Chairman shall preside. The Secretary shall maintain the minutes of the Committee.

The Executive Committee shall have and exercise the authority of the Board and the management of the Corporation; provided, however that no such Committee shall have the authority of the Board in reference to amending, altering or repealing the By-Laws; electing, appointing or removing any member of any such Committee or any Director or Officer of the Corporation; amending the Articles of Incorporation; adopting a plan of merger or adopting a plan of consolidation with another corporation; authorizing the sale, lease, exchange or mortgage of a11 or substantially all of the property and assets of the Corporation; authorizing the voluntary dissolution of the Corporation or revoking proceedings therefore; adopting a plan for the distribution of assets of the Corporation; or amending, altering or repealing any resolution of the Board which by its terms provides that it sha11 not be amended, altered or repealed by such Committee. The designation and appointment of any such Committee and the delegation thereto of authority sha11 not operate to relieve the Board or any individual Director of any responsibility imposed upon it or him or her by law.

The members of the Executive Committee shall be appointed, by resolution of the Board, at the time of the Annual meeting and no regular Director may serve more than two consecutive terms except as required by position of office. Should a vacancy on the Executive Committee occur doing the year, the Board may fill that vacancy at the time of any Quarterly or Special meetings of the Board.

Meetings of the Executive Committee may be held at such time and place as may be from time to time determined by the Executive Committee upon the giving of notice, personally or by mail, e-mail, telephone, or facsimile (fax) prior to the meeting date.

Finance Committee. The Treasurer shall serve as Chair of the Finance Committee. By resolution of the Board and on recommendation of the Treasurer, at the Annual meeting at least one additional Director shall be appointed to such committee. The Director(s) appointed by the Board and the Treasurer shall identify additional appointees who need not be members of the Board. However, the Committee members should number not fewer than three (3) nor more than five (5) persons. The Board or its Executive Committee shall confirm these additional appointees.

The Finance Committee should assist the Treasurer in preparing the annual budget of the Corporation and provide advice and recommendations on fiscal aspects of all functions of the Corporation. The Committee shall monitor and regularly report to the Board on the financial status, disbursement, deposits and investment of the resources of the Corporation.

The Finance Committee shall develop an Investment Plan for the resources of the Corporation, present that plan to the Directors for their consideration at the Annual Meetings and update the plan at least on an annual basis.

Meetings of the Finance Committee may be held at such time and place as may be from time to time detem1ined by the Finance Committee upon the giving of notice, personally or by mail, email, telephone, or facsimile (fax) prior to the meeting date.

Nominating Committee. Ordinarily, the Nominating Committee shall be Chaired by the Immediate Past Chairman of the Corporation and include regular elected and ex-officio Directors not fewer than five (5) nor more than seven (7) in number. By resolution, at the time, of the Annual Meeting, on recommendation of the Chairman and members present, the Committee membership shall be confirmed by the Board.

The Nominating Committee shall meet on a quarterly basis, or more often if necessary, to assist the Board in identifying philanthropically minded persons prepared to serve as members of the Board or as members of the Standing or Special Committees of the Board, or both. Such potential appointees are expected to contribute effort, time, expertise and substance to the Corporation.

All appointments shall be for a period of one (1) year; however, to provide continuity and to preserve the expertise of experience, at least two (2) years of service is expected of most Directors appointed to this essential Standing Committee of the Board.

The Nominating Committee will seek the input and specific recommendations of all Directors and will report to the Directors at the Quarterly meetings of the Corporation. A slate of nominations for Officers, Directors and Committee members will be presented by the. Nominating Committee Chair at the Annual meetings of the Corporation.

Meetings of the Nominating Committee may be held at such time and place as may be from time to time determined by the Nominating Committee upon the giving of notice, personally or by mail, e-mail, telephone, or facsimile (fax) prior to the meeting date.

Section 2. Other Committees. Other committees not having and exercising the authority of the Board and the management of the Corporation may be designated by a resolution adopted by a majority of the Directors present at a meeting at which a quorum is present or may be designated, on an interim basis, by the Chairman of the Corporation. Except as otherwise provided in such resolution, chairpersons of each such committee shall be Directors of the Corporation, but other members of the committees need not be Directors of the Corporation. Any member thereof may be removed by the person or persons authorized to appoint such member whenever in their judgment the best interest of the Corporation shall be served by such removal.

Section 3. Term of Office. Each member of a committee shall serve as such until the next Annual meeting of the Directors of the Corporation unless the committee shall be sooner tem1inated or unless such member shall be removed from such committee or unless such member shall cease to qualify as a member thereof.

Section 4. Chairperson. One member of each committee shall be appointed Chairman by the person or persons authorized to appoint the members thereof.

Section 5. Vacancies. Vacancies in the membership of any committee may be filled by appointment made in the same manner as provided in the case of the original appointment.

Section 6. Quorum. Unless otherwise provided in the resolution of the Board designating a committee, a majority of the whole committee shall constitute a quorum and the act of a majority of the members present at a meeting at which a quorum is present shall be the act of the committee.

Section 7. Rules. Each committee may adopt rules for its own government not inconsistent with these By-Laws or with rules adopted by the Board. Each committee shall make a full report of all actions to the next meeting of the Board.

Contracts, Checks, Deposits, Investments and Funds

Section 1. Contracts. The Board may authorize the President and the Chairman to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the Corporation and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances.

Section 2. Checks. Drafts. Etc. All checks, drafts or orders for the payment of money, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued in the name of the Corporation shall be signed by the President and the Treasurer or other Officers so authorized as Agents of the Corporation, and in such manner as shall from time to time be determined by resolution of the Board. In the absence of such determination by the Board, such instrument shall be signed by the President and the Chairman of the Board of the Corporation. In the absence or disability of these Officers, the Board may designate other Directors to sign instruments on behalf of the Corporation.

Section 3. Deposits. All funds of the Corporation shall be deposited from time to time to the credit of the Corporation in such banks, trust companies or other depositories as the Board may select.

Section 4. Gifts. The Board may accept, on behalf of the Corporation, any contribution, gift, bequest or device for the general purposes or for any special purpose of the Corporation. By resolution, or otherwise as deemed appropriate, the Board may recognize significant contributions that help advance the goals and objectives of the Corporation.

Section 5. Investments. As previously described in these By-Laws, the Treasurer, with advice by the Finance Committee, shall develop an investment plan for corporate resources. Following approval of the scheme by the Board, the Treasurer, on behalf of the Committee, shall regularly report to the Chairman and the Board on the status of corporate investments.

Books and Records

Section 1. Books and Records. The Corporation shall keep correct and complete books and records of account and shall also keep minutes of the preceding meetings of its members, Board and committees having any of the authority of the Board and shall keep at the registered or principal office a record giving the names and addresses of the Directors. All books and records of the Corporation may be inspected by any Director at any reasonable time.

Books and accounts of the Corporation shall be kept under the direction of the Treasurer of the Corporation in accordance with the requirements of any loan agreement, Regulatory Agreement or any other agreement entered into.

Section 2. Auditing and Reports. At the close of each fiscal year, the President of the Corporation shall cause to be prepared a full and correct statement of the affairs of the Corporation, including a balance sheet and financial statement of operations for the preceding fiscal year which shall be submitted at the Annual meeting and filed with the Secretary of the Corporation.

Fiscal Year

Fiscal Year. The fiscal year of the Corporation shall begin on the 1st day of July and end on the 30th day of June of each year. The commencement date of the fiscal year herein established shall be subject to change by the Board.

Bonding and Indemnity

Section 1. Fidelity Bonds. The Board may require that all Officers and employees of the Corporation having custody or control of corporate funds furnish adequate fidelity bonds. The premium on such bonds shall be paid by the Corporation.

Section 2. Indemnity. To the extent permitted by law, specifically as provided in TCA 48 58-501 et. seq., each Officer and Director of the Corporation shall be indemnified by the Corporation against expenses reasonably incurred by him or her in connection with any action, suit or proceeding to which he or she may have been made a party by reason of his or her being or having been an officer or a director of the Corporation except in relation to matters in which he or she shall be finally adjudged in such action, suit or proceeding to have been negligent in the performance of his or her duty as Officer, Director or employee.


Seal. The Corporation shall have no corporate seal.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict. All members of the Riverfront Development Corporation Board, including ex-officio members and voting and non-voting members, shall be subject to and governed by such Conflict of Interest provisions as the Board may adopt or amend by resolution.

Roberts Rules of Order

Order. The procedural rules and guidelines contained in the Corporation's By-Laws shall officially prescribe the conduct of all the Corporation's meetings. In the absence of guidance from within the By-Laws, the Corporation will conduct its business according to Robert's Rules of Order.

Waiver of Notice

Notice. Whenever any notice is required to be given under the provisions of State law, the Articles of Incorporation or these By-Laws, a waiver thereof in writing signed by the person or persons entitled to such notice whether before or after the time stated therein shall be deemed equivalent to the giving of such notice.

Amendments to By-Laws

Amendments. These By-Laws may be altered, amended or repealed and new By-Laws may be adopted by majority approval of the Directors present at any regular meeting or any special meeting of the Corporation, with a quorum, subject to notice requirements in compliance with these By-Laws.


I, John W. Stokes. Jr., Chairman of the Riverfront Development Corporation, do hereby certify that the above and foregoing is a true and correct copy of By-Laws originally adopted in a meeting assembled and duly held on the 2nd day of June, 2000; and revised in a meeting assembled and duly held on the 9th day of April, 2002.

WITNESSETH MY SIGNATURE, this 9th day of April, 2002.


By: John W. Stokes, Jr., Chairman


Benny O. Lendermon III, President

Revised 04/09/02

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Library Ready to Let Cossitt Go; Redevelopers Value Land Over Building

Commercial Appeal
by Deborah M. Clubb

The fixtures in the deepest part of downtown's old Cossitt Library are nicer than those found in most modern homes. And the Mississippi River view, from its tall arched windows and rooftop, is one of the best in the city.

But Cossitt, once the mother ship of the Memphis library system, has shrunk to one ground-floor reading room and storage for city archives as it awaits news of its fate.

Black enameled iron shelves are stacked three levels high, on iron posts topped with 2-inch iron crown molding and brass filigree label holders.

The floors are inch-thick glass so that light can glow between the three levels, connected by narrow stairs with delicate iron and brass railings.

And that's the closed stacks, the part that the public was never intended to enter when the 1924 addition doubled the size of Memphis's original 1893 sandstone library.

Today, shelves in the "glass stacks" are mostly empty, the colonnaded windows dark.
Under the 50-year master plan for redevelopment of the Memphis riverfront, Cossitt's blufftop perch would be "reused."

The corner occupied by Cossitt, at Front and Monroe, is prime real estate that the city's founders preserved for public use. But the so-called promenade blocks along Front from Union to Auction are key targets of the Riverfront Development Corp., the nonprofit board that will manage waterfront redevelopment under contract with the city.

"We have to turn the `public use' parcels back into private development," said Kristi Jernigan, RDC vice chairman. "That's key to the whole effort for the riverfront."

The RDC expects to be in court this year to begin the process of taking control of the promenade property, said RDC chairman John Stokes.
That's fine with the library system.

Cossitt would cost too much to renovate as a library, said Judith Drescher, director of libraries.

And no funds for a downtown branch are in the Memphis or Shelby County capital improvement budgets.

"It's cost-prohibitive to get in there and start all over," Drescher said of Cossitt. "It meets no code. The public shouldn't be using it now."

A library should be part of the downtown scene, Drescher said, but it does not need to be a free-standing building.

The first floor or two of a new, multi-use project would be fine, Drescher said, in the center of downtown near the highest concentration of population.

The original Cossitt Library, with its round tower, triple-arched entry and terrace, stood like a red sandstone castle, financed by the heirs of dry goods magnate Frederick H. Cossitt in 1893.

Today, Cossitt contains 50,000 square feet in two awkwardly connected sections - the 1924 three-story sandstone addition and a boxy, aluminum-clad two-story section built in 1958 after the original 1893 structure was demolished.

The 1950s "facelift" ruined the Cossitt, historically speaking, said Judith Johnson, executive director of Memphis Heritage Inc., the city's foremost private, nonprofit historic preservation group. Cossitt is not on the National Register of Historic Places and would require "extensive rehabilitation" to be used as apartments, for example, Johnson said.

"Since it is so abusively altered, if you took down all or part of it, I'm not sure it would be anything other than a social loss," Johnson said.

From the east along Front Street, Cossitt looks like a giant vertical window blind hanging incongruously off a historic stone building.

A reflecting pool and fountain, funded with $13,000 from Memphis City Beautiful when the new section was built, quickly became a trash pit. It eventually was drained and deemed unusable, leaving a muddy pit with a repeatedly vandalized, headless statue to greet library patrons.

Beneath the giant window blind, the entire ground floor of the 1958 building is open weekdays as a reading room with seating, 10 computers, a few shelves of popular literature, a security guard and two or three friendly librarians.

A low-ceilinged meeting room, rarely used, doubles as a staff break room. Restrooms can be unlocked upon request. Local artists display in a small corner gallery space.

A rope blocks access to the front staircase, which leads to a vast second floor.

There rest thousands of books and other materials, all discards sent in from throughout the system to be part of regular book sales to raise money for the library.

Space in the older, rear section toward the river is taken by the "glass stacks" on the north side and by tall rooms full of shelves and archive material. Here gloved staff and volunteers organize and process historic documents in acid-free paper and storage boxes.

Records of the Memphis Street Railway, 4-inch thick yearbooks of Memphis City Beautiful and minutes of the 1896 City Council meetings line dusty shelves. Arcane reference books from the old Goodwyn Institute's business and technical reference collection, which merged with the Cossitt in 1961, fill other shelves and spill onto the floor.

The archive material now at Cossitt will be moved either to the new main library at 3030 Poplar or to the new Shelby County archive, where county documents have already gone, said Jim Johnson, senior manager of the library's history department.
The last engineering study, done in 1989 for the library system, said, "The Cossitt . . . no longer has a viable future as a public library for Memphis and Shelby County."

The consultants estimated repairs required to meet various building codes at $2.36 million.

The Dallas-based library planners who studied Cossitt in 1989, HBW Associates Inc., and local architects Jones Mah Gaskill Rhodes concluded that the library system should have nothing to do with renovating, demolishing or reusing the Cossitt location.

The elevator shaft can't hold an up-to-date elevator. The plumbing system can't accommodate new restrooms as required. Stacks can be reached only by stairs; aisle space is too narrow for crutches and wheelchairs.

Door frames and walls at Cossitt's back door are crumbling from age, insects and water damage. Paint hangs in long flaps off some ceilings.

Part of Cossitt could be preserved, Drescher said, "but it would take an enormous commitment . . . that all the money required to do that would be put into it."

By Alan Spearman
The older portion of the Cossitt library downtown, built in 1924, affords a great view of the Mississippi River through arched windows. The floors are inch-thick glass. But the public never had access; it has been used only for storage.
Part of the 1953 "facelift" to the Cossitt library downtown, a headless statue stands by an unusable reflecting pool. This addition, says Judith Johnson of Memphis Heritage Inc., ruined the Cossitt, historically speaking.

CAPTION: The city's original Cossitt library was financed by the heirs of dry goods magnate Frederick H. Cossitt in 1893. With its round tower and triple-arched entry, it looked like a sandstone castle.

Copyright 2002 The Commercial Appeal

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Bridging Mud Island: The biography of an idea.

Memphis Flyer [Link to original]
by John Branston

The centerpiece, literally, of the new riverfront plan is the land bridge to Mud Island, a $75 million investment that would create 50 to 70 new acres of prime downtown real estate.

Bold as it is, the land bridge is not new. Since 1924, at least half a dozen ideas including pontoon bridges, dams, pedestrian bridges, and land bridges similar to the one in the current plan have been floated by architects, planners, and engineers. Two of them, of course, were actually built: the Mud Island monorail and the Auction Street Bridge.

Like The Pyramid (which is similar to a golden bluff-top structure proposed in 1975 by designer Mark Hartz), major-league sports, and a music museum, the land bridge is one of those Memphis ideas too powerful to die.

Its earliest ancestor appears to be the 1924 Harland Bartholomew & Associates riverfront plan. It featured a classic promenade consisting of a series of arches on Front Street and a low, arched bridge wide enough to carry cars to future parks on Mud Island.

"No immediate steps are necessary," planners wrote. "As private improvements are made and as public funds become available, the various improvements can be made."

The plan was updated in 1955 with an interstate-style Riverside Drive connecting Tom Lee Park to Mud Island, an east-west interstate crossing the Wolf River at Auction Street, and a cloverleaf intersection in the middle of the island.

"It is proposed to divert the channel at a point near Poplar, and to fill the old channel, thus creating a very large area to be used for the purposes shown on the plan."

The Hernando DeSoto Bridge over the Mississippi River (and Mud Island) was built in the late Sixties. The Corps of Engineers raised the island's elevation at the same time, but development of the island was still several years away.

In 1972, Mud Island landowner Bill Gerber and Percy Galbreath, Inc., commissioned a plan for Mud Island. This one also had a land bridge closing the Wolf River harbor at Beale Street and a new channel at the north end of the island.

"We had just seen 400 acres filled by the Corps, and the idea of filling in a 30- to 40-acre connection didn't seem like any real major feat," says Gerber. "The value of the land you would gain would be more than the cost of producing it."

Harry Rike, an engineer who worked on the plan, jokes that "we were not engineers, we were prophets." The land bridge came in small, medium, and large sizes, and the preferred option, the middle one, was almost exactly the size of the one in the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) plan.

But Gerber and Rike couldn't interest then-Mayor Henry Loeb, who was worried about crime on South Main Street.

"They didn't want to connect Mud Island to a high-crime area," Rike says. "Now, of course, all of that has changed and it's an entertainment district."

Instead, the next city administration and architect Roy Harrover moved ahead with Mud Island river park. Harrover considered two options similar to the RDC proposal. One was making the bridge that now supports the monorail a building with a museum instead.

"The second thing was quite pertinent," says Harrover. "We started at Union and filled in the Wolf River up to where the I-40 bridge ties in, creating a complete public park from Riverside Drive to the Mississippi. That scheme was cancelled by the Coast Guard and the Corps of Engineers. And the entire Yacht Club was opposed to it."

Then-Mayor Wyeth Chandler and the City Council instead chose the concept of a monorail and a park dedicated to the river. It cost $60 million and now has few fans.

"The harbor is considered a public waterway commercially used," says Harrover. "The Coast Guard told us we had to build the monorail bridge the same height as the Hernando DeSoto Bridge at that point. Then they came back a few years later and allowed them to build the Auction Street Bridge lower than that."

The Auction Street Bridge opened Mud Island to residential developments like HarborTown, but the lure of direct access from the heart of downtown remained. Architect Tony Bologna and developer Henry Turley played around with the idea of a low-cost pontoon bridge at the southern tip that could open or close for boats and barges. A former Bologna associate, Tom Turri, joined the Hnedak-Bobo architectural firm, and he sketched out drawings of a 28-acre lake formed by closing the harbor with a dam at Beale Street and another at Jefferson.

"The lake" went public in 1996, its estimated cost $30 million.

"It didn't do anything to bring the city to the river," says Turri, now with Bottletree Design Group. "There was some public discussion, then the RDC idea came along."

The RDC's charge is to recoup the cost of any public investment with roughly three times as much private development. Total package price: $292 million.

Benny Lendermon, head of the RDC, says RDC planners were staunchly opposed to a land connection at Beale Street, which was favored by the RDC board at one point. The planners insisted it should be north of that. Minds were made up.

"They might have walked away from it," Lendermon says.

So north it was. And north it is. For now, at least.

Copyright 1996-2004 Contemporary Media, Inc.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Riverfront Project Could Delay Cleanup of Harbor

Commercial Appeal
By Tom Charlier

The scenery along the Wolf River harbor should revolve around wildlife and stunning sunsets, not floating masses of syringes, condoms, diapers and juice bottles, a boating group says.

More than a dozen boaters at the Harbor Town Marina on Mud Island have asked the city to speed up plans to rid the harbor of trash that washes in from storm sewers. They don't want deliberations over an envisioned riverfront development project to hold up the effort.

"You wouldn't believe the stuff we see," said Albert Alexander, one of the marina-users listed on a letter seeking the cleanup.

After heavy rains, he said, the harbor is covered with "the worst of what you'd want to see" - everything from shoes and baby dolls to diapers and condoms. ``It just doesn't break down."

In their letter, the boaters say delaying the cleanup project to wait for a decision on the riverfront plan could leave the harbor polluted for ``many years down the road."

But city officials contend there are good reasons to wait - about $8 million in good reasons, in fact. The cleanup project will be that much cheaper if the harbor is turned into a lake as envisioned by the nonprofit Riverfront Development Corp. (RDC).

The centerpiece of a plan now before the RDC involves the construction of a land bridge from downtown to Mud Island, transforming much of the harbor into a lake. The purpose would be to create land for development, generate revenue for other public projects and draw more people to the Mississippi River.

The plan, which officials expect to be adopted by the RDC board on Thursday, eventually would require approval by the City Council.

The question of whether the lake is established weighs heavily on plans to clean up the harbor.

Any cleanup effort would employ self-cleaning mechanical bar screens at the Bayou Gayoso Pumping Station, where stormwater from much of downtown and surrounding areas flows into the harbor. The screens would filter pollution from the water.

But the size and type of screens used would vary significantly depending on whether the harbor remains subject to the wildly fluctuating elevations of the Mississippi or is transformed into a more static lake.

Memphis public works director Jerry Collins said the cost of the screens that would be needed if the harbor remains unchanged is about $10 million compared with roughly $2 million if it becomes a lake.

"It would be unwise to install screens at great expense, and then take them out in two years," Collins said.

The city hasn't budgeted any money for the project until fiscal 2006, he said, but that could change.

In the meantime, Collins said, the city is trying to reduce the pollution by attacking the problem of litter and storm water contamination.

Memphis also has adjusted its street-cleaning operations to focus on "high-trash areas," said Rodney `Butch' Eder, director of the city's General Services division.

RDC president Benny Lendermon said the pollution problem has attracted more attention in recent years because recreation on the river and harbor has increased.

"The problem hasn't gotten a whole lot worse. It's just that more and more people are using the water - which is good," Lendermon said.

The cleanup project will take on additional importance if the land bridge and lake are established.

The narrow, 150-acre lake would be isolated from the Mississippi's currents, which now carry off pollution.

"It (trash) would just accumulate there," Lendermon said. "Right now, we have sort of a self-flushing system with the Mississippi River."
- Tom Charlier: 529-2572

By Alan Spearman
(Color) Trash lines the banks of the Wolf River harbor. "You wouldn't believe the stuff we see," said Harbor Town Marina user Albert Alexander.

Copyright (c) 2002 The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

Wednesday, January 09, 2002

RDC Board Meetings - 2002

Here are the RDC Board of Directors meeting minutes for the entire year 2002, scanned into a single PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file [1.3 MB]

Monday, January 07, 2002

RDC Executive Committee - 2002

Here are the RDC Executive Committee minutes for the entire year 2002, scanned into a single PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file [1.7 MB]

NOTICE: Compilation copyright 2005-2010. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of historical, aesthetic, economic, environmental, and other issues relating to the Memphis Riverfront. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to this website. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.