Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Solution is simple and obvious

My letter to the editor of the Commercial Appeal:

You're right. Everyone wants the cobblestones preserved (Sept. 1 editorial, "Inflexibility and the riverfront"). But that's only half the job the Riverfront Development Corp. was supposed to do. The other half — restoring the riverboat landing — went by the wayside, conveniently forgotten. So let me remind you.

The 2002 Riverfront Master Plan (approved unanimously by the City Council) said: "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...

"A full restoration and retro-fit of the Cobblestones into a contemporary state-of-the-art riverboat landing with dining and retail opportunities is essential to the success of the Harbor. ..."

Beale Street Landing was only part of the picture. In fact, it was needed for only the largest overnight riverboat cruises (no longer in business). But the RDC decided instead that the new dock would replace the historic Cobblestone Landing. They have already told the Memphis Queen Lines they'll have to use it.

RDC asked the city to spend a total of $30 million for an artificiality that completely overshadows the historic area and has no relationship to Memphis history. And now it doesn't want to ask for the money (over what the feds gave them) to restore the historic Cobblestone Landing.

When you and Jimmy Ogle say we are "inflexible" and ought to "compromise," you are ignoring the plain truth: With its half-baked plan, the RDC has already severely compromised the historic Cobblestone Landing — in favor of its new toy.

The solution is simple and obvious: Slim down the $30 million plan for Beale Street Landing by, for example, getting rid of those pointless "islands." That's how you'll find the $5 million savings needed to do the right thing for our historic Cobblestone Landing.