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.
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
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 We 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
GREATER MEMPHIS GREENLINE, INC
GMG E-NEWSLETTER #1 DECEMBER, 2005
Welcome to our inaugural e-Newsletter. We would like to bring you up to date on the activities of the
Greater Memphis Greenline, Inc., (GMGI) over the past year, and invite you to participate with us in the
creation of the Greater Memphis Greenline (GMG) over the next years. Please feel free to pass this on.
In June, 2004, members of a local nonprofit group, CommonSense, Inc., formed an exploratory
committee to discuss the feasibility of developing the GMG into a hiking/biking trail. It soon became
apparent that a new group, dedicated specifically to this project, was called for. Invitations were issued to
all the local nonprofit groups which might be interested in promoting this project to select a representative
to a new Board of Directors. This group met for the first time in August, 2004, and since then has met at
least once per month
ACCOMPLISHMENTS TO DATE
501c(3). The GMGI has received a 501c(3) from the Federal Government as a public charity. All
donations to the GMG are tax-deductible. In addition to the Board of Directors which represents over 12
other stakeholder 501c(3) organizations, we also are in process of assembling a Board of Advisors.
GOVERNMENTAL RECOGNITION. We have met with a number of members of local government,
and a draft Memorandum of Understanding which will give the GMGI official standing to help develop
and maintain the GMG (with final approval for any development resting with local government), is
circulating between and among the City, the County, and the County Conservation Board.
WEBSITE. Our site is www.greatermemphisgreenline.org , and to date it contains a list of our Board of
Directors and the organizations they represent; pictures of a well established hiking/biking/equestrian trail
in Reston, VA which we hope to emulate here; a section on the advantages of a neighborhood trail/linear
park, with a number of references for further reading; a survey which you can fill out about what type of
trail you would like to see in your neighborhood; pictures of an already-established trail in the Vollintine-
Evergreen neighborhood; and volunteer/donation/contact forms.
COMMUNITY INPUT AND SUPPORT. We have held four public events to date to survey opinions
on what people would like to see on the section of the GMG near them - at Shelby Farms, with the High-
Point Terrace Neighborhood Assn., a public forum at the Library, and with the Poplar-Highland
Neighborhood Assn. We appreciate that safety and security are primary concerns, and will work closely
with government and neighborhood associations and anyone else to ensure a satisfactory design. If you
would like for us to meet with your group, just ask and we'll arrange it.
Community support has been overwhelming. We already have a potential volunteer list of over 150, and
as soon as the County has officially leased the GMG from the CSX Railroad (and it won't be considered
trespassing), we will schedule some cleanup days.
Thank you for your interest and support, and we look forward to next year !
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
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
"The over-the-fence method was great for the railroad, but it's not realistic," said Bill Goss, manager of real estate services for
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
-- Tom Charlier: 529-2572
From the Commercial Appeal
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
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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Robert A. Schreiber
Rails to Trails Conservancy
Shelby Farms Pk. Alliance
Mem. Runners Track Club
Wolf River Conservancy
TN Trails Association
Am. Society Interior Designers
Mid-South Trails Assn.
Park Friends, Inc.
Rev. Sidney Malone
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 http://www.memphismobility.com/ , 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
GREATER MEMPHIS GREENLINE, INC.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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
This rail line originally was part of the
NC&StL (Nashville Chattanooga and
St.Louis) railroad. Below are some
links to its history.