Thursday, December 01, 2005

Re: Greater Memphis Greenline monthly board meeting, 11-28-05
Highlights from the meeting:

MSTA now has a seat on the GMG board. The board currently has 13 people. 10 were at this meeting. The board has been in existence for apx. 2 years. The current GMG mailing list is at 190. They have received 130 surveys.

Shelby County and CSX are still in negotiations over the land lease.
The board estimated this may take as long as 6 months.

Apx. 70 surveys came back after the newspaper article and the public meeting at the library.

Further review of public meeting; apx. 65 pro greenway attended. 5 anti-greenway attended, loudly.

GMG board members attended Shelby Farms meeting about the road. GMG will respond to the road plan that crosses greenline.

I told them MSTA already had a link to the GMG site on the MSTA site.
I asked for a link to the MSTA site from the GMG site.
GMG board asked if MSTA would share their e-mail list with GMG?

There was a discussion of building a trail adjacent to the tracks just north of Shelby farms. I told them if they wanted a simple trail with no frills, (i.e. a single track path) the MSTA would be happy to help.

What I recommend to MSTA:

MSTA share their mailing list with GMG. This may have to be done on an individual basis. [MSTA has a policy of not sharing member's personal information. MSTA will send GMG information to our email lists so people can be informed and make up their own mind on joining the GMG list. B.C.]

MSTA members go the GMG website and fill out the survey. [Link to survey at end of article.]

MSTA members consider being GMG members, there is a membership form on their website. [Link to GMG membership form is at end of article.]

Ride more; Talk less, unless you are talking about the Greenway.

Right now the GMG needs increased public awareness, a larger mailing list, and more members. Please check out their website and think about putting your name on a survey or membership form.


Greg Maxted

Below is my unsolicited opinion:

The GMG board members are committed to making this happen. Some board members worked on getting the Volentine-Evergreen Greenline up and approved, as well as the riverwalk. Board members have contacts at various levels of city and county government. City Council and County board members are aware of GMG and kept up to date. Public officials that have come in contact with the board, support the Greenway project.

GMG board members also have the ear of some of the 'Memphis Money' families. People with the money and connections to make things happen. Board members also have contacts with some corporate entities. The greenway will require public and private funds. This board seems to be working this from multiple angles.

I am personally excited about this project. A bike path connecting the city to Shelby Farms would be sweet. My plan is to contact all the cycling groups in Memphis to drum up grass roots support for the project. I have contacts on Los Locos, Team Terrapin, Motorwerks, RCW & Start 2 Finish. I am looking for contacts with the Hightailers, Memphis Thunder, & Back Yard Burgers. If someone could share a name and contact I would be happy to follow up. Or if there is a cycling, triathlon, running or other group I missed, I am happy to add them to my list of evangelical challenges.

What the Community Had to Go Through
to Make the Greenline a Reality

The Greater Memphis Greenline (GMG) is a proposed 13-mile multi-use urban park/trail on a former CSX railroad right-of-way from the intersection of Poplar/Walnut Grove/Union in Midtown Memphis to near Houston Levee in the suburbs of Shelby County.

This page is dedicated to providing the cycling community the most up to date information about the Greater Memphis Greenline. This project is attempting to turn the unused CSX rail tracks into a 13 mile recreational corridor. This page will have MSTA's latest information and contacts for you to get involved in this worthwile project.

MSTA has a dedicated representitive working with the GMG operating board. Long time MSTA member Greg Maxted is now a member of the Greater Memphis Greenline board. Greg will represent MSTA and the overall cycling community on the GMG board.

Greg's report covering the November GMG board meeting

CSX asking price millions out of line
It wants $15.7 million on appraisal of $2.4 million
By Tom Charlier

September 4, 2006

Although it asked local government for at least $15.7 million for an out-of-service rail corridor, CSX Transportation's 2006 tax bill for the acreage will be based on an appraised value of less than one-sixth that amount.

A recent appraisal by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury -- which handles property tax assessments for railroads -- sets the value of the Midtown-to-Cordova corridor at $2.4 million.

The sum is only marginally higher than the $2 million offer that CSX rejected from Memphis and Shelby County, which had hoped to use the property for recreation trails and a light-rail line.

"That ($2.4 million) is about all the property's worth," said Barry Murphy, director of thje office state-assessed properties for the comptroller's office."

There are limitations on the use of the property. You just can't go out there and do just anything with it. I don't think (FedEx chairman) Fred Smith would think he could go out there and build a runway on it."

Disagreements on the property value helped scuttle negotiations between CSX and the city and county toward a possible sale of the corridor.

Stretching more than 13 miles, the 100-foot-wide corridor has been coveted by locals officials and recreation enthusiasts ever since CSX received approval to suspend rail operations on it three years ago. Both Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and county Mayor A C Wharton signed a letter of intent to buy the acreage.

The mayors dropped their efforts after appraisals conducted by CSX and the city and county set the market value of the corridor at a level they considered way too high -- $17.8 million and $15.7 million, respectively.

The latest appraisal was the first the state has done specifically on the corridor, which formerly had been grouped together for tax purposes with the CSX tracks that still carry trains. It was conducted because state officials reclassified the corridor as "non-operating" property with a value separate from that of the operating lines.

The new corridor figure is part of the $356.2 million in total appraised property statewide for which CSX will pay property taxes.

The corridor appraisal translates to an assessment of about $960,000, or 40 percent of the $2.4 million. It will yield an extra $38,000 or so in property taxes for the county, plus an undetermined amount of new revenue for the city.

Records show CSX paid the county more than $130,000 in property taxes last year for its operating rail lines.

On Tuesday, Tennessee finance officials will certify the railroad values to the state Board of Equalization.

Murphy said the earlier appraisals came up with unrealistic, "pie-in-the-sky" values for the corridor.

They were based on what is known as an "over-the-fence" appraisal method. In other words, the per-square-foot value of adjoining land is extrapolated onto the corridor property.

That method, Murphy said, doesn't consider limitations on use, which ultimately dictate how much a buyer would pay. He equated it to setting the value of a car by adding up the retail cost of all the spark plugs, valves and other parts.

Some of the local officials and citizens who pursued the corridor purchase said the state appraisal shows the city-county offer was reasonable.

"The over-the-fence method was great for the railroad, but it's not realistic," said Bill Goss, manager of real estate services for the county.

Darrell Eldred, who has led a private investment group trying to raise money for the acquisition, said CSX can't have it both ways by seeking a high sales price while enjoying a much lower tax assessment.

"If they believe that that ($15.7 million-plus) is an appropriate value ... then let's tax it at that rate," Eldred said.

CSX spokesman Meg Scheu said Friday that she had no information on the latest appraisal of the corridor.

But the railroad will be responding to one concern of local officials: overgrown vegetation in the corridor. Scheu said CSX will begin clearing vegetation at street crossings and start working with adjoining property owners who wish to have clearing done.
-- Tom Charlier: 529-2572

From the Commercial Appeal

A.J. Wolfe
The Commercial Appeal

The abandon CSX railroad line is overgrown with weeds where it crosses High Point Terrace.

Plans to purchase old railroad corridor screech to a halt

By Tom Charlier

July 17, 2006
Balking at a price that's nearly eight times more than they had offered, Memphis and Shelby County officials have dropped their efforts to buy an abandoned railroad corridor for use as a recreational trail system and possible light rail conduit.
In a recent letter, City Mayor Willie Herenton and County Mayor A C Wharton notified CSX Transportation that the minimum $15.7 million cost of the 13.3-mile corridor connecting Cordova and Midtown is well beyond the means of local government.

"Unfortunately, given the current financial condition of both the City of Memphis and Shelby County together with our immediate need to secure funding for our more urgent, higher priority projects, we are not in a position to pursue a land acquisition of this magnitude," the jointly signed letter says.
A separate private investment group that had planned to raise funds to help the city and county with the purchase also has suspended its efforts, citing the price.

"There's just no one we're aware of who wants to participate in that kind of pricing," said Darrell Eldred, who has headed the group.

That means it's likely up to Greater Memphis Greenline Inc. -- a non-profit organization spearheading efforts to develop the trail project -- to try to raise money to acquire the corridor.

Local officials and recreation enthusiasts have coveted the 100-foot-wide corridor ever since CSX received federal permission to discontinue rail service on it in 2003. They envision a trail network for bikers, hikers and joggers, with long-range plans also including a light-rail line on the corridor.

When they began talks with the railroad, local officials said they believed the price would be less than $2 million. Herenton and Wharton signed a letter of intent to buy the acreage.

But a CSX appraisal of the property last year set its value at $17.8 million. The local governments hired their own appraiser to counter that, but A.E. Balkin & Associates this spring arrived at a sum that's not much lower -- $15.7 million.

Both appraisals were based on an "over-the-fence" method of setting value. It means the land price was based on what it would be if it was an extension of adjoining property lots.

With the high appraisals in hand, CSX rejected a city-county offer of $2 million for the corridor.

Bill Goss, manager of real estate services for the county, said the offer was fair.

"It appears the only market for that corridor was local government," he said.

Eldred said CSX is demanding too much for the corridor, especially since it has become a "festering scar across the city" as a result of the railroad's lack of maintenance.

"CSX has chosen not to be reasonable," Eldred said.

But CSX spokesman Gary Sease said the company is obligated to seek the market price when selling land.

"We are a for-profit company and we're responsive to our shareholders, so we don't give the property away. We sell it for fair market values," Sease said.

Last year, the city and county had unsuccessfully tried to persuade CSX to lease the corridor so the trail project could get under way. Sease said he didn't know the full reason behind the company's rejection of the lease option.

Goss said that even though federal and private grants are available to help with the purchase of recreational property, both mayors felt those funding sources should be directed at higher-priority projects.

As for the CSX corridor, "the city and county were not in a position to embrace a price anywhere close" to the figures in the appraisals, Goss said.

Bob Schreiber, president of the board of directors for Greater Memphis Greenline, said the group will continue to try to raise funds for the project.

"We're waiting to see what happens," he said.


Robert A. Schreiber

Thad Howard
Rails to Trails Conservancy

Syd Lerner
CommonSense, Inc.

Steve Sondheim
Shelby Farms Pk. Alliance

Don Richardson
Sierra Club

Wain Rubenstein
Mem. Runners Track Club

Chris Brown
Wolf River Conservancy

John Martin
TN Trails Association

Leslie Shankman-Cohn
Am. Society Interior Designers

Greg Maxted
Mid-South Trails Assn.

Bill Rehberg
Park Friends, Inc.

Rev. Sidney Malone

Fred Hoffer

Marilyn Lubin
Equestrian Society

Mark Miesse
Homebuilders Assn

NEWSLETTER .................................. April 27, 2007

The GMG has had a good bit of activity in the last few months. First, we have just participated in two Earth Day Events - At Lichterman Nature Center on Saturday, Apr 21 and at Shelby Farms on Sunday, Apr 22. We sincerely appreciate your interest in the GMG. Negotiations continue between the GMG and CSX. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy recently moderated a conference call among over a dozen groups, including us, attempting to acquire a rail line from CSX. We are not alone in having difficulties. We are attempting to develop a comprehensive nationwide negotiating strategy through the Conservancy, and hope that this might break the roadblocks in the near future.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization has hired a consultant group, Kimley-Horn and Associates, which has a survey to receive opinions on local transportation issues. If you have a few moments, I would urge you to fill it out. It is found at , and the more of us who encourage the MPO to incorporate plans for Parks, Greenways, bike paths and trails, the better.

The mission of Greater Memphis Greenline, Inc., a 501c3, is to collaborate in a public-private partnership with local government in the development of unused railroad right-of-ways and other easements in Memphis and Shelby County , to create a world-class recreational hiking/biking/equestrian trail system


We are embarking on a new project with MLG&W which you might find useful. MLG&W has almost 400 miles of easements in Memphis and Shelby County, which they are willing to allow us to use as trails. We will start with a demonstration project on a section which MLG&W already owns, which runs between Park and Quince, just inside I-240. We would like to work with neighborhoods to develop an interlaced series of trails. If you are interested in helping, please reply to me at .

Lastly, we applaud local efforts to become a "Tree City USA." We have calculated the value of a tree, which is posted on our website, at .
The GMG, when completed, could add an economic value to Memphis and Shelby County of $6,000,000 per year in tree value alone.

Again, thank you for your interest and support in our efforts to help create a User-Friendly Memphis.

Robert A. Schreiber

Shelby County Commission Approves
Greenline Purchase and Construction

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal article on March 31, 2009.

Click here to visit the Commercial Appeal complete article>

Shelby County Commissioners approved a deal Monday to buy an old railroad line that will be converted to a trail, meaning county residents could enjoy the new 7-mile hiking and biking path as early as Dec. 31.

With the commission's unanimous vote, the county can go forward with its plans to accept $4.77 million in grant funds from the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy to purchase a 7-mile CSX rail line that connects neighborhoods east of Midtown to Shelby Farms.

The funds, which came from private fundraising, will cover the purchase and some improvements. Most of the $1.5 million needed for construction of the trail will come from a federal surface transportation grant, requiring a local match of $375,000.

Rick Masson, the Park Conservancy's executive director, said the next step will be to start work on the trail with the community's input.

"This is a major step in creating a healthier community and creating a quality of life that many communities have that we haven't had," Masson said, adding that this could be the first trail of many connecting throughout the county.

On June 12, MSTA members assisted Shelby Farms with the start of the greenway clean up. Our group was accompanied by Operations Manager Robert Mayer who also jumped in to help.

Link to forum information page>

This rail line originally was part of the NC&StL (Nashville Chattanooga and St.Louis) railroad. Below are some links to its history.