VOL. 132 | NO. 211 | Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Greenway’s Mud Island Segment Opens
By Bill Dries
When Henry Turley was developing Harbor Town and building homes and apartments on Mud Island, he remembers marketing the view of the Wolf River.
Harbortown developer Henry Turley said the new leg of the Wolf River Greenway on Mud Island’s north end makes good on a promise long ago of a beautiful Wolf River view. (Daily News/Bill Dries)
The development spread to the northernmost part of the island across a narrow east-west access road from a wilderness of overgrowth, privet, old tires and other items illegally dumped there.
“When we built these apartments right here we were told it was on the Wolf River,” Turley said Saturday, Oct. 21, at the opening of the new section of Wolf River Greenway on Mud Island’s north end. “We couldn’t find it. … To make the situation worse, that same condition of neglect and overgrowth continued right on down to what we now know as Greenbelt Park.”
Greenbelt Park is the western corridor park along the Mississippi River where it was difficult to see the Mississippi River in places.
“We built a platform and had a ladder going up to it. I would take a climb up there and we’d tell them how exquisite and perfect everything was going to be,” Turley said of his pitch. “Who would believe a developer, right?”
These days, Greenbelt Park is known for its views of and closeness to the Mississippi River. About once a year, the river gets so high it closes the park.
On Saturday, the one-time wilderness and dumping ground that obscured a view of the Wolf River was formally opened as the westernmost leg of the Wolf River Greenway, a 26-mile corridor the follows the Wolf River across Shelby County and into Fayette County. Portions of it remain under construction.
The east-west, manmade levee that made Mud Island a peninsula is the border of the Mississippi and Wolf River that can be seen through a thick grove of trees that frame the 1.2-mile-long trail loop. With a ribbon of shoestrings, leaders of the Wolf River Conservancy formally opened the area Saturday that has a working name of Confluence Park – where the Wolf meets the Mississippi.
“Those shoestrings symbolize the connections we are making as we build out the greenway,” said Keith Cole, executive director of the conservancy. “Please do not think of this as a 12-foot wide paved hiking and biking path. Think about it as being a connection in our community.”
The greenway is a $50 million project is an even mix of private donations and public money.
The Kennedy Park and Epping Way segments of the greenway in Raleigh are scheduled for completion and opening within months, perhaps by the end of the year, marking the northernmost bend of the Wolf River.
A third greenway segment, from TVA power lines to Walnut Grove Road in East Memphis, began construction earlier this month toward an opening in about a year.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the city should have its RiverLine markings Downtown and other preparations ready in the next month to better mark the riverfront trail from Confluence Park southward to the Big River Crossing on the Harahan Bridge.
The greenway section at Confluence Park opened the same day Big River Crossing marked its one-year anniversary with the Big River Half Marathon and 5K, which also was a formal opening for the Delta Regional River Park – a six-mile trail loop on the Arkansas flood plain connected by Big River Crossing.
“You realize that there is a movement that is taking place in our community to preserve and protect and promote this great county,” Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell said at the greenway opening.