Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cobbles under glass, Part 2: The "Connection"

Continued from: [Part 1]

In my previous article, I neglected to make a point about the so-called "connection" that the RDC wants to build.

By the way, as a retired marketing executive, I am well aware that "connection" is one of those fuzzy marketing terms companies like to use when they don't want to (or can't) spell out all the facts. (Look through the RDC's Web site and count how many times the word is used.)

On the RDC's Web page, they call this the "Historic Cobblestone Restoration and Walkway Project." By "walkway," what they really mean is that nonsensical sidewalk along the supposed water's edge that will in reality be under water a third of the time and be looking out over an ugly field of rip-rap another third of the time. They say this feature will "become the critical north-south connection along the River" between Jefferson Davis Park and Beale Street Landing. They claim:
The current walking surface also creates a large barrier to pedestrian movement north and south along the Mississippi Riverfront at Memphis. However, the problems can be solved by restoring the landing, preventing further deterioration, making repairs throughout the cobblestones’ surface, and providing adequate walking surfaces constructed in a manner respectful of historical significance

In yesterday's posting, I pointed out that construction of the sidewalk, the rip-rap, and the possible sheetpile walls and/or terraces are not "in a manner respectful of the historical significance" of a cobblestone boat landing. Worse, it will make it impossible to use it as a riverboat landing any more (the RDC would prefer you to use their new red steel boat dock at Beale Street).

The truth is that the sidewalk destroys their historical significance, turning the Cobblestone Landing into a museum relic: as in, "Cobbles under glass." (But we already know that the RDC doesn't place much stock in history, don't we?)

Furthermore, the reader must surely have figured out by now that if the RDC restored the Cobblestone Landing properly, then there already is a walking surface along the river -- the Cobblestones themselves. After all, other cities proudly let their citizens walk along even older cobblestone-covered streets (and apparently without an inordinate fear of lawsuits).

So, here is the point I neglected to fully make in that article:

"The Connection" already exists, without the Cobblestone Project. There already is an ADA-compliant, smooth walking surface connecting between Beale Street Landing and Jefferson Davis Park, with a glorious view of the Cobblestone Landing: the sidewalk along Riverside Drive.

The ironic part is that the sidewalk was probably built with money the State of Tennessee gave the City in 1997 to (among other things) restore the Cobblestone Landing. The City didn't complete everything they promised the State back then. The RDC needs to finish the job.

Coming up next: Another look at ADA.

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