Council Approves Beale St. Landing and Tiger Lane Funding

Light Rail Funding Derailed In Committee

By Bill Dries

Memphis City Council members Tuesday approved continuing the Beale Street Landing project Tuesday. They also approved a $15 million project to create a 7 acre lawn at The Fairgrounds that was originally estimated at around $10 million. And the council derailed any funding in the new budget year for a light rail project.

The action on the three high profile city projects came as the council moves toward a series of votes in two weeks that will bring to an end the city budget season.

The $750,000 in funding for preliminary consulting work on a light rail route along Lamar and Airways to Memphis International Airport was rejected in council budget committee. The decision would become final if the full council agrees at its June 8 meeting. That’s also when the council will take a final vote on ordinances increasing sewer and solid waste fees.

The council set the stage for a vote in two weeks on a balanced budget by approving a restructuring of the city’s bond debt that is expected to save the city $41 million. In committee Tuesday, the council gave preliminary approval to almost all of the $9 million in budget cuts suggested by Mayor A C Wharton Jr.. The two moves would add up to $50 million in savings that would go toward the city’s contested but court ordered share of Memphis school system funding in the new fiscal year.

The Beale Street Landing Project got a $10.5 million greenlight to go ahead with the next to last phase of construction on the boat landing, restaurant and gift shop at the foot of Beale Street at Riverside Drive. The council approved a construction contract with Webb Building Corporation. The funding is in the current fiscal year budget.

The final phase is a park at the foot of Beale Street that would cost an additional $6.5 million for which the city has no funding available currently.

The Tiger Lane project at the Fairgrounds spans the current fiscal year and the fiscal year that begins July 1. The bid awarded by the council came in about $5 million higher than originally anticipated. The city has the money for all but $2.5 million.

The Wharton administration backed a $13 million version for which the city already has all the funding committed.

In addition to creating a greenspace from the East Parkway entrance to the Fairgrounds to the west side of the Liberty Bowl, the plan approved by the council would pave old parking lots as well as newly created lots where buildings and barns stood until recently.

The council approved the most expensive of three options that includes renovation of the Pipkin Building and the Creative Arts Building – the two buildings not demolished this spring. The plans also call for an extension of Young Avenue across East Parkway to the west side of the Mid-South Coliseum.

And, a new addition to the plans creates a second new road off Hollywood between the Children’s Museum of Memphis and the Liberty Bowl that would lead to the Salvation Army Kroc Center. New parking lot lighting and a wrought iron fence on the Hollywood side are also included.

Read more in Friday’s edition of The Daily News.