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VOL. 133 | NO. 75 | Friday, April 13, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: Mud Island Changes, Zoo Parking and Capitol Hill Revolt On UT Board

By Bill Dries

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This could be your last chance to see the Mississippi River Museum at Mud Island River Park as it has been for about the last 30 years. The park on the southern half of Mud Island opens for the season Saturday. The museum will be open only through July 4 is what is billed as a “limited run” followed by a public engagement process for “reimagining how we tell the story of the Mississippi River in a 21st century way,” according to park general manager Trey Giuntini in a Thursday press release.

And the museum is worth another look before the park begins at least planning its transformation via the city’s riverfront development plan to include a set of aquariums linked to the museum building and a pedestrian bridge across the harbor to the southern end. Some parts of the museum are pretty dated. Others, like the experience of walking through a 19th century riverboat and hearing the voices from the pilot house to the parlor, I think, are timeless.

Maybe some of the technology underpinning the presentation could use an upgrade. But, just for me, I like the premise. And updating the early-1980s technology around the presentation of a Civil War gunboat could probably make that a much better experience. But I’m pretty sentimental about the museum and park starting with the neat rows of small shoes with socks stuffed in them you tend to come across on the museum building steps facing the Riverwalk.

The park excluding the museum is open into the fall and admission to that remains free but with the new season the park will be open longer hours -- 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday and dogs are allowed in the park starting this season. It looks like there will be new rules for cars in the park. All entry to Mud Island is through the monorail or pedestrian bridge until 5 p.m. when the north gate also opens to pedestrians and those on bicycles. The monorail and museum close for the day at 5 p.m.

City Hall signs off on the plan for Memphis Zoo parking and with the Thursday announcement there were some changes to the tentative plan Powers-Hill rolled out in February. The same footprint is there, taking 2.4 acres of land in the reconfiguration that will create 415 more parking spaces. But the plan to have the parking entrance closer to the Overton Park formal gardens got changed and the entrance is just about where it is now. The berm that separates the new parking area from the reduced greensward is now designed so that the cars can’t be seen. It will be three feet high and that is accomplished by taking the cars lower along that part of the lot.

The final plan for the reconfiguration and expansion of Memphis Zoo parking comes with some changes by the city administration.

As we reported earlier this year, this will not be done in time for the earlier pledge to end overflow parking on the greensward by January 2019. Construction will start in November and probably take about 18 months with the zoo and park in this area remaining open during. More on this in the Monday edition.

A revolt on Capitol Hill in Nashville Thursday against the downsizing of the University of Tennessee board of trustees. The proposal by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam barely made it through the House to go to the Governor’s desk and Haslam wasted no time making his appointments to the new board. Our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard reports the Senate education committee rejected five of Haslam’s 10 appointees including Dr. Bill Evans, the former director and CEO at St. Jude.

Observations on the first day of early voting in the Shelby County primaries Wednesday:

There were 2,325 early voters with 1,244 voting in the Democratic primary and 1,081 in the Republican primary. There are no general election races on the ballot. This includes absentee voters along with those voting at the 21 early voting sites across Shelby County. The top early voting site by turnout was Baker Community Center in Millington with 148 followed by White Station Church of Christ with 144. By commission district, the top turnout of 235 is in Roland's District 1 followed closely by 230 in Billingsley's District 4 and 225 in Basar's District 13 and then 220 in Reaves' District 3. This is where the voters live. Two of those four districts have commission races with no incumbent. And again, this is from the first day. No comparisons to 2010 and 2014 with this same election cycle because on the first day of those two early voting periods only one early voting site was open.

Early voting runs through April 26 and election day is May 1. So once we get day two numbers Friday we will be doing more of this @tndpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, where DEMOCRACY lives.

Lots of self financing in the campaign finance reports of those running for Tennessee Governor this year starting with the August statewide primaries.

Word of a second new tenant in Overton Square this week – this time in the space us old timers know as the original Paulette’s. Among the co-owners of Bogard is former Grizz coach Lionel Hollins.

Grizz general manager Chris Wallace among those meeting the press Thursday the day after the last game of the season for the Grizz.

Meanwhile, on Broad Avenue, The Liquor Store has expansion plans.

End of the season for the Grizz in Don Wade’s Press Box column. In the Grizz exit interviews that followed Thursday at FedExForum, Don found lots of sentiment for giving Grizz interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff the job on a permanent basis. Conspicuous by his absence Thursday, Tyreke Evans who is a free agent in case you didn’t know that. And for the trifecta, more on how the state of the Grizz intersects with the opening of the season for the Redbirds and the Tigers offsesaons – football and basketball.

The cover story by Don in our weekly, The Memphis News, is about Redbirds box office and what that looks like with the coming of the United Soccer League to AutoZone Park. The PDF of the new issue is up now on this very website. The hard copies go in the racks Friday morning and the online version of the cover story goes up here Friday afternoon.

More on the Urban Land Institute’s April 26 RegionSmart Summit at the Halloran Centre. Ed McMahon, a ULI senior fellow, tells us he will talk about changes in the model for economic development and how Memphis may be in the right place at the right time for that change. We have certainly been talking a lot in recent years about the right strategy and McMahon is not a fan of the Amazon basket to put all of your eggs into, in that regard. “And if it is, you’re giving away the store to get it.” Also coming back to town for the event after being here last week for MLK50 is John Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation HOPE Inc., who has been doing a lot of work locally as well as nationally around financial literacy and financial institutions changing their policies to meet those on a path to prosperity at least half way.

Speaking of money, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told county commissioners in committee sessions this week that he probably won’t follow the city’s method for coming up with a county government share of funding a prekindergarten expansion countywide.

St. Jude puts its pediatric cancer genomics data on the cloud and opens the platform to other researchers. And it is actually called the St. Jude Cloud – part of a promise the institution made at the outset of its latest expansion to share and collaborate world-wide with research toward ambitious goals including moving beyond chemotherapy in treatments.

Prepping chilli at the Church Health nutrition center at Crosstown Concourse.

Crosstown Concourse and the surrounding area include the potential to be a culinary hot spot in a city where barbecue axioms are a really limited way to look at what is happening in the city’s food scene. Church Health, in the concourse, now has a nutrition center and it has a curriculum that is based on what is called a Mediterranean diet.

Raymond James is in court with its landlord over elevator problems in one of the skyscrapers that is part of the city’s skyline.

A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts highlights the huge funding gaps some state governments have in their pension systems. The same report notes that Tennessee is one of four state governments where pensions for state employees are at least 90 percent funded.

Rolling Stone on the HBO Elvis documentary that debuts Saturday.

The draft plan for changing the city’s bus system is our topic on “Behind The Headlines.” We wrote about this a bit earlier in the week. Our guests are Scudder Wagg of Jarrett Walker + Associates, Suzanne Carlson of Innovate Memphis and Glenn Gadbois of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

PROPERTY SALES 57 94 2,713
MORTGAGES 16 37 1,820
BUILDING PERMITS 303 621 6,322
BANKRUPTCIES 138 138 1,115