Greening Greater Memphis Public Meeting
I arrived at the Botanic Gardens at 5:15 to find the parking lot nearly full. All I could think was WOW, this is bigger that
I thought it would be. I parked in one of the few spaces left at the far south end and mad my way into the building.
MSTA's table was right at the entrance between Outdoors inc. and Revolutions Community Bike Shop. Traffic was
good and I talked to quite a few people. Even signed up a new MSTA member.
At 6:00 we were called to go to the meeting room for the formal presentation. This is when the success of the event
became evident. All the chairs were taken and many were standing around the sides of the room. Many people could
not enter the room and listened from the hallways. In short, the meeting was wall to wall standing room only. At the end
of the meeting one of the garden's staff gave me an estimate of 800 people.
Memphis mayor Willie Herrenton, Shelby County Mayor A. C. Wharton, and Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy
were in attendance. A number of county commissioners and city council members attended the meeting also.
Outdoors owner Joe Royer gave the opening remarks. During his speech Joe acknowledged the sweat equity MSTA
members put into our trails.
Event moderator Carol Coletta then made remarks and introduced the speakers for the meeting. First was Bob Schriber
of Greater Memphis Greenline. Bob spoke about the advantages the rail-trail would bring to the area. Next was Keith
Kirkland of the Wolf River Conservancy. Keith spoke about the WRC's to goals of protecting the Wolf River watershed
and the Wolf River Greenway. Laura Adams of Shelby Farms Park Alliance gave a short presentation on Shelby Farms
history and plans for the future.
Keynote speaker Alex Garvin then took the podium. Alex' firm was hired to research Shelby Farms and it's user groups
to provide a guidance framework for the soon coming master planning process. I met and rode with one of Alex'
associates in June 2006 and was told I would have a meeting directly with Alex in the future.
The presentation covered the building blocks of a successful "greening" program. Alex displayed information on
several other cities already well into their greening process. One large project not too far away is the planned Emerald
Necklace that will surround metropolitan Atlanta. One fact stresses is that many people now look for a place they want
to live and then look for a job to make that happen. Memphis and Shelby County has to compete for new young talent
or fall by the wayside.
The meeting was a great success. Attendance was much greater than anyone had imagined. The crowd was
enthusiastic. And our elected officials saw first hand that Shelby County citizens want to stop falling behind other
areas in recreation opportunities.