Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My remarks before City Council

Below is the full text of my own remarks before the City Council last night.

I am the editor of the web site MemphisCobblestones.com.

I have followed the riverfront situation very closely for over six years.

You are being asked to appropriate $10.5 million for a restaurant and gift shop at Beale Street Landing.

The CIP Budget committee has already voted to recommend that you vote NO.

I'm sure you are aware that, even if you vote yes, Beale Street Landing will STILL be $6.8 million short.

I recommend you vote NO on the $10.5 million. You'll be doing the City and the Mayor a big favor.

In a recent letter to all of you, Mayor Wharton said he wants to update and finalize a Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the entire riverfront.

As I understand him, the Mayor wants to "re-imagine" the riverfront based on the realities of today, not of eight or ten years ago.

Eight years ago the Pyramid was a basketball arena.

Today we are looking forward to it becoming a Bass Pro retail and entertainment complex.

That facility would be ten times the riverfront destination that Beale Street Landing could ever hope to be.

Members of the Council, please hear me:

Beale Street Landing is not “world class.” Bass Pro Pyramid is world class.

It has inspired plans for an economic renaissance, particularly in the Pinch district.

So the Mayor wants to develop an updated Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the riverfront, based on these new REALITIES and on our aspirations for tomorrow.

Why saddle him with a relic of that ill-fated land bridge plan of 2002?

Does it make sense to commit $10.5 million to the past -- money that might be more wisely spent as part of the Mayor's new initiative?

Members of the City Council, don't be railroaded. Don't be hornswoggled.

You were hornswoggled last May at budget time. You were not told that Beale Street Landing was going over budget.

You were still not told last August. You were railroaded into appropriating over $10 million for a boat dock that We. Did. Not. Need.

Interim Mayor Myron Lowery was also kept in the dark.

They are trying to railroad you again, by saying that there are only two choices: Build it - or be stuck with the mess forever.

Not true. There is a third choice: Give the RDC just $2 million. Order them to clean up the mess and re-landscape the park.

If they refuse, then fire them.

Yes, we are stuck with that unneeded boat dock. Maybe it will someday be an "icon" we can put on a postcard.

But dadgum it: Let's give Mayor Wharton as clean a slate as we possibly can.

Please vote NO on the $10.5 million.

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