VOL. 127 | NO. 159 | Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Funding for Greenline Extension Narrowly Passes
By Bill Dries
An extension of the Shelby Farms Greenline from Farm Road east across Germantown Parkway to the old Cordova train depot along the old CSX rail corridor is on track.
A bicyclist rides the Shelby Farms Greenline between White Station and Mendenhall roads. The County Commission has approved an extension of the path.
(Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey)
But this week’s Shelby County Commission vote accepting the $3.3 million state transportation grant that will fund most of the $4.4 million project was close with no votes to spare.
The funding comes with a $1.1 million local match. Half of the match has been pledged from private donors by the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, which manages the Greenline. The other half, $550,000, is from Shelby County government.
The 7-4 vote followed a long commission debate in which the borders between the Shelby Farms Park and the Greenline were blurred.
Commissioner Wyatt Bunker objected to the county funding, saying the conservancy’s contract to manage the park calls for no additional funding beyond the $500,000 the county provides every year toward maintenance and operation of the park.
“They didn’t have any revenue streams. I suggested they use some of the property around Germantown Parkway to do land leases that would complement the park, build shopping centers up there that would have a back patio that would open up to the park,” Bunker said in renewing his long-standing opposition to the basic agreement. “They could sell athletic equipment – roller blades or bicycle parks – a Starbucks or fruit drink place that would complement the park. … It’s got to be self-sufficient.”
Backers of the Greenline, including Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration, argued the Greenline is a separate project the conservancy manages for the county, which is not covered in the earlier conservancy agreement.
The backers also included some on the commission who normally vote with Bunker on other issues.
Fellow Republican commissioners Heidi Shafer and Chris Thomas said the funding and contract were well worth the county’s investment.
Thomas pointed out the park master plan includes some restaurants and recreational equipment rentals.
“I’m a tree hugger,” he said to Bunker. “Don’t get mad.”
Shafer said the Greenline is “very well run.”
“We are just going to see this benefit us exponentially,” she added.
Meanwhile, Democratic commissioner Walter Bailey, who rarely votes with Bunker on ideological lines, supported Bunker’s stand.
“This park does not benefit the entire population by its sheer location,” said Bailey who also said the park is “elitist” in its appeal and the way it is run.
“It may be too big,” Bailey added. “Some of it should have been privately developed. There would be more benefit. We could put it on the tax rolls.”
The commission later approved a companion $165,500 contract with Tetra Tech Inc. for engineering design and program management of the Greenline extension.