Sunday, April 25, 2004

Letter: Skip a meeting, and somehow plans change

Commercial Appeal
Letters to the Editor

I attended the first two of three public meetings presented by the Riverfront Development Corp. last year. I was pleased and intrigued with the plans for the four-block area of the public promenade between Union and Adams avenues.

To my relief, a land bridge/dam across the former Wolf River channel that had been proposed earlier as part of the riverfront development had disappeared. The inappropriate parking garages, fire station and the ugly modern addition to the Cossitt Library were to be razed, while keeping and refurbishing the beautiful, historic post office.

In their place along the foot of the bluff, an array of shops, bars, boutiques and restaurants were to be built, tiered into the face of the bluff and extending east to Front Street. As I recall, this proposed development was to be low level, no taller than one or two stories on the west side of Front.

After missing the third RDC meeting, I attended a presentation last month by Friends for Our Riverfront.

The RDC's attractive plan appears to have been drastically changed. It is now dominated by three skyscrapers, from 150 feet to 400 feet high, on the river bluff. Where did these leviathans come from? They were not part of the RDC presentation that I found so attractive. Is this bait-and-switch on the part of RDC?

With considerable empty downtown office space available, do we need more office buildings? Who will pay for them? Do we need the river views from existing buildings blocked by front-row monsters?

How can anyone vote on a proposal that seems to change drastically almost every time it is presented?

As for the open promenade and park plans proposed by Friends for Our Riverfront, I don't think Memphis needs more parkland on our riverfront. With Martyrs Park, Tom Lee Park, Jefferson Davis Park, the Tennessee Welcome Center and the residential portion of Mud Island, we already have almost three miles of open riverfront parkland, in addition to the riverwalk along the bluff.

The four-block, tourist-friendly bistro/shopping development in the face of the bluff with a low level development on Front makes sense to me. Isn't it a reasonable compromise?

William B. Strong

Copyright 2004, - Memphis, TN.

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