Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Summary of the first Mud Island River Park public meeting

Location: Mud Island River Park
Date and Time: March 23, 2009 5:45
Host: Consilience group on behalf of the Riverfront Development Corporation

Skateboarder turnout

The number of skateboarders numbered around 15 which considering the turn-out for the fairgrounds demos last spring, was a bit disappointing. If skaters really want one of the premier skate parks in the country built on Mud Island, they will need to show up to the next meeting and let their voices be heard! Also missing were folks from the rollerblading/roller-skating community. These numbers are somewhat expected since we didn’t make a huge effort to get the word out. Basically, this was a good meeting to test the waters and report back in this post.

Bikers are hungry for space

I was particularly impressed by the number of BMX riders that showed up at this meeting; they outnumbered the skaters which to me means they are working hard to earn their right to bike in the park. Kudos to you guys!

Event schedule:

Presentation and discussion of waterfronts from around the world

Various water fronts were shown including water fronts from Italy and Louisville as well as Baltimore. None really made much of an impression on me since they were so vastly different from the Mud Island geography. The Mississippi is simply breathtaking due to its raw beauty and power and much of these waterfronts were structural facades built within a much more sophisticated context. Harbor town, just north of the River Park, offers the best template to draw from when considering any future modifications of the River Park’s water front- it’s simple, green and showcases the natural beauty of the Mississippi.

Public participation

There were around 100 attendees seated around tables that held between 5-7 people. The moderator gave the public about 15-20 minutes to write down and discuss their favorite things that they would like to see introduced or kept at the River Park. Our table had one fellow mention that he would appreciate public boat-ramp access re-opened on the east side/city side across from the Island near the Pyramid. I am not sure how this related to the River Park but clearly he felt strongly about it since he made the effort to show up at the meeting. John Kirksey who has started the Memphis Art Park project suggested we have a beach volley ball area-great idea. An elderly lady was a big advocate for a children’s play ground being made available. IMO a children’s playground is essential. The extension of the Harbor town green belt into the River Park was also a favorite topic among our group for cyclists and runners. Of course I brought up the skate park and our table was sympathetic to the idea.


The moderator then asked each table to vocalize their top item of interest. Another staff member would then write each item down on a separate large white sheet of paper.
Each attendee was given five blue dot stickers which would be used for voting on the different items. I personally was quite impressed with how they carried out this process. It was simple and democratic: if you wanted to use all five stickers on one item that was fine as well, which I thought was fair if only one item appealed to you. Having a playground and year round access was surprisingly a favorite among the skaters: I thought maybe they would spend all their dots on the skate park. What a thoughtful bunch. Ok, I admit it, I spent three dots on the skate park and the other two on a youth hostel and the playground.


Rather then share the results, come and experience the results first hand from your own participation in the next meeting that will be held on Thursday April 2nd at the Memphis Botanical Gardens (750 Cherry Road) from 5:45-7pm.

If you took the time to read this post please take the time to go to the next meeting-I need you all to be there to make this a community effort. I can say this, the skate park held its own in the voting thanks to the non-skating community stepping up supporting it as well. Thank you.

No comments: