Thursday, March 6, 2008

The question not asked

The presentation of the Beale Street Landing plan last night was the best I've seen -- and I've seen many. The partner from Bounds & Gillespie Architects was careful, thorough, detailed, and accurate. When it came time for the Design Review Board (DRB) members to ask their questions, they came up with lots of thoughtful and interesting ones.

But one very important question wasn't asked. (A couple of board members came pretty close.) Perhaps this question wasn't part of the DRB's review criteria. I wasn't permitted to ask it, but someone in this City ought ask the question and insist that it get answered.

Click here to learn the question.As I looked at the BSL drawings for what seemed like the thousandth time, a sense of dread came over me. Take a look at the drawings below, adapted from the RDC Web site[1], and see if you can spot my concern. (Hint: Think about how is BSL, as designed, is distinctly different from a park like Tom Lee.)

Birds-eye view of main and second pods, at Riverside and Beale.

Main pod is above and behind your left shoulder. You're looking south.

Near the top of the helical ramp, looking north.

The helical ramp, as if seen from a big riverboat.

Do you see it?

1. With all of the levels and terraces, stairs and ramps, pods and walls, there must be a hundred good places for someone to hide, ready to attack or rob an unsuspecting visitor, especially at dusk or at night. This is unlike Tom Lee Park -- a wide open flat space with only a statue and a tree or two.

2. Secondly, about those big pods: What's to stop an unattended child from suddenly scrambling over a wall or rail and falling to their doom? (Unlike the Cobblestone area, which is flat and sloping.)

In short: What's the security plan for Beale Street Landing? (I don't mean homeland security.)

One DRB member asked whether BSL will be be fenced or gated. No, said an official. It's a public park and will be open 24/7. Another board member expressed a concern about it being an attraction for campsites of homeless people. We're assuming the police will deal with those kinds of things, said the official.

In other words: There's no particular security plan.

Did "the most-reviewed plan in the history of Memphis" somehow miss getting looked at by the police department? Just asking.

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