VOL. 113 | NO. 121 | Wednesday, June 23, 1999
Landmarks to discuss Memphis Landing walkway
Landmarks to discuss
By LAURIE JOHNSON
The Daily News
The Memphis Landmarks Commission will discuss plans today with city officials for a proposed temporary walkway across the Mississippi Rivers historic cobblestone landing Downtown.
While city officials say they would like to see a walkway extending from the river to Riverside Drive installed as soon as possible, in the interest of tourist and boat safety and convenience, preservation officials say they want to weigh all available options for preserving the integrity of the cobblestones and serving the public.
The proposed project site is at the far southern end of the cobblestones, near the Beale Street/Riverside interchange.
"The issue is that right now, the large riverboats, which typically dock at Mud Island, cant dock there during low water because they block the channel," said city engineer John Conroy, who, along with Mud Island River Park maintenance manager Jae Nale, will present the citys proposal for the walkway to the Landmarks Commission at its meeting today, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.
"This is an attempt to provide an interim docking point at the cobblestones and provide some safe access to and from the boats."
The cobblestones of Memphis Landing, laid between 1859 and 1937, cover almost eight acres, extending about 2,100 feet along the Mississippi riverside.
The landing, once Memphis primary trade port, is considered to be the most intact cobblestone landing on the Mississippi River.
According to a Landmarks Commission staff report, the city plans to build a 12-foot wide concrete walkway with a 42-inch tall handrail from the rivers edge to the top of the cobblestones along Riverside Drive.
The city also plans to lay an asphalt driveway at the top of the cobblestones along Riverside to a point where asphalt is currently laid, to be used as a driveway for buses.
"There is the desire to be able to bring buses down there for the people to board," Conroy said. "The buses are not comfortable driving on the cobblestones."
Conroy said the key element of the project is that it is temporary, to be left in place only until a permanent docking facility can be built.
According to the walkway proposal, no cobblestones will be removed as part of the project. The concrete walkway will be laid on top of a plastic barrier designed to protect the stones, and the asphalt drive will be removable.
"The components of the project are being designed and constructed in such a manner that they are easily removable, and there will be no evidence theyve ever been there," Conroy said.
"There will be nothing left sticking to the cobblestones, and the cobblestones wont be damaged."
Construction of the walkway would begin as soon as possible following Landmarks Commission approval, Conroy said.
"We think its something that needs doing," he said. "As soon as we get Landmarks approval, we would immediately try to get it installed."
Darrell Cozen, historic preservation planner for the Landmarks Commission, said Landmarks Commission staff had no problem with the walkway but did have a few concerns about the size of the asphalt driveway.
"Since its a temporary project, our main concern is not to mess up the cobblestones in any permanent way," he said, noting that one section of the proposed asphalt drive might not be necessary.
"When I drove the path of the proposed bus route, I saw a 200- to 300-foot section of cobblestones that appeared in excellent condition," he said.
"I was wondering why they needed to be covered with asphalt."
Cozen said, at this point, he is recommending approval of the walkway and part of the asphalt driveway.
He said city officials and Landmarks staff plan to meet again regarding the project, which would give both groups time to perhaps meet together at the project site to discuss concerns and explore additional options.
"Because of the great significance of the cobblestones, we dont want to rush into a decision."
At todays meeting, the Landmarks Commission also will consider applications for certificates of appropriateness for window tinting and signs for Memphis Presort Inc., at 574 S. Main; a rear deck addition for The Pier restaurant at 100 Wagner Place; façade alterations for a building at 115 S. Front; aluminum window installation at 185 Union and garage construction at 343 Garland.
The Landmarks Commissions next meeting is scheduled for July 14.