Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mark your calendars

A joint public information meeting will be held by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday, August 11, 2009, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 330 North Main Street in Memphis, Tennessee (38103).

This will very likely be your last opportunity to set the Cobblestone Landing project back on its proper tracks. Be there. Speak up.

I will post some suggested talking points over the next few days. Many will be based on the detailed material you can already find on this site and elsewhere. But here is the main issue, boiled down to its very essence:

The RDC's cobblestone plan (as proposed) has only one high level objective: Repair and preserve the cobblestones as if they were merely a museum relic -- to be seen from afar (with "interpretive signage"), but not to be walked on or used as a landing. To quote them:
The purpose of the Historic Cobblestone Landing Restoration and Walkway Project is to stabilize and restore the Memphis Cobblestone Landing and provide limited usability, connectivity and accessibility improvements.

But that is not what they were supposed to do. That is not what the RDC's own Riverfront Master Plan says. The RDC was supposed to restore the Cobblestone Landing as a riverboat landing, to continue to be the boarding point for all but the largest boats. They were supposed to, as the Master Plan stated:
Restore the Cobblestones to their historic uniqueness, and establish them as a great commercial boat landing and civic square at the foot of Union Avenue.

If the RDC is allowed to ignore the Master Plan and if they proceed to decommission the Cobblestone Landing, Memphis will be henceforth be known for a red steel boat dock, along side what looks to be a giant Putt-Putt course. It will be a tragic loss not only to the City, but even at a national level, because ours was best preserved of the great cobblestone riverboat landings, and had been in continuous use for over 150 years.

There are many individual problems with the proposed design. But all of them are problems stemming from one, simple fact: The RDC and its consultants followed the wrong objective. (And we know why. Not to mention this.)

The solution, therefore, is also very simple: The public must force the RDC to go back to the drawing boards and come up with a new plan, designed to carry out the correct objective. We must force them to follow the Master Plan, just as they had promised to do, countless times, before the City Council.

You can help right this wrong by attending the Corps/TDOT public meeting on August 11 and making your voices heard. You can also help by asking your City Council representative whether he or she should allow the RDC to violate the dictates of the Riverfront Master Plan.

Artist's conception of Beale Street Boat Dock and Putt-Putt.

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