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VOL. 125 | NO. 7 | Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today’s Council Activity Expected To Be Brisk

By Bill Dries

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SUNDAY DRIVER: Memphis City Councilmember Shea Flinn is proposing closing Madison Avenue to auto traffic Sundays from 5 a.m. to noon. The council will discuss the proposal in committee sessions today with a vote scheduled for Jan. 26. -- PHOTO BY LANCE MURPHEY

Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn wants to close Madison Avenue to cars between Front and Cooper streets on Sunday mornings from 5 a.m. to noon.

Flinn’s resolution will be discussed by the council in committee sessions today, with a vote by the body in two weeks.

“I think it would provide a place at a time when it’s not really going to interfere with commercial businesses … where people can get out and run and bike on the roads and have an urban trail,” Flinn told The Daily News.

Flinn offered the proposal after hearing the suggestion at a Christmas party from several runners in the Memphis marathon. It also borrows from New York City’s recent decision to close part of Times Square to vehicular traffic.

“We just got to talking about it and I thought it was a really, really good idea. ... It’s just another amenity the city can provide,” Flinn said. “Ideally, if it works real well on Madison, we can start doing it in other parts of the community. … There’s not as much traffic on Sunday. There’s certainly not much commercial activity before noon.”

Flinn also said the street closing could encourage Memphians to exercise more and improve their health.

“We need to stop ignoring the elephant in the room, which is prevention,” he added.

Today’s 3:30 p.m. council session is the first of 2010. An agenda is on Page 10.

The meeting will begin Harold Collins’ yearlong term as council chairman. Collins served as chair from July 31, 2009, to the end of the year after Myron Lowery became mayor pro tem.

Also on the council’s agenda today is approval of a use variance for parking at a new proposed medical clinic on Broad Avenue near Lipford Street.

Christ Community Health Services Inc. plans to open a clinic at 2953 Broad. Parking will be behind the building.

The council will also set a public hearing date for a controversial plan to build a 156-lot subdivision of single-family homes on Fairway Avenue west of Horn Lake Road. The subdivision plan was rejected in November by the Land Use Control Board.

The developer, Southern Housing Co., is asking the council to overturn the November decision.

In committee sessions, the council will consider several appointments by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. The full council is scheduled to vote on the appointments at its Jan. 26 session.

Wharton has appointed Carla Peacher-Ryan, an attorney and shareholder at the law firm Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, to the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. for a four-year term.

Fred D. Johnson, a consultant and retired teacher, has been reappointed to the board of the Memphis Area Transit Authority.

The council is also considering a resolution from the Wharton administration asking the Tennessee Legislature to increase state funding to MATA and make it a dedicated source of revenue that would continue indefinitely. State money accounts for 14 percent of the transit authority’s operating budget and 20 percent of MATA’s capital or construction budget.

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