B$L - Numbers in Disarray

Time to call a "time-out", get independent audit and analysis!

Sports fans all know that a time-out is a good thing - a chance to see what's working, what's not working, and make adjustments. Memphis definitely needs one on the riverfront.

The numbers are in disarray. They keep changing and the city's share keeps going up. No one is clear what's been spent, what the earmarks are actually for, or what contracts have actually been signed. And no answers have been given to the important questions about paying for future maintenance and operation of the boat dock.


May 2009 Hand-out to City Council during budget hearings showed:

Total estimated cost of BSL - $33M
City’s share: $22.3M
Breakdown:
$ 7.4M City money spent
$ 3.6M State money spent
$14.9M City money, not yet spent
$7.9M Federal money, not yet spent
(Click image at right to enlarge hand-out)

Dec. 13, 2009 Commercial Appeal reported:
$8.9M additional funding request to City as a result of $8.2M in cost over-runs and $1.4M reduction in federal funds.

Based on those numbers, it looks like the design and construction cost of BSL is now around $41.3M, with the City’s share at $31.2M. And that doesn't include what we'll have to pay to operate and maintain the boat dock if it's built.

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Vibrant Riverfront for Less

A letter-to-the editor at the Commercial Appeal had
5 good suggestions for how to reduce the cost of BSL and get more bang for the buck on the riverfront.

Check them out HERE and share your ideas. Several comments so far: make it a deck not a dock; get rid of the “pods/islets” and put a playground at the N. end of Tom Lee Park; convert it to a skate park; make it a plaza with food vendors.

You can add your comments at MemphisCobblestones.com or e-mail your suggestions to us at info@friendsforourriverfront.com

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"Baby, It's Cold Outside"

And the perfect day to stay inside and
read John Branston's "Frozen" in February's Memphis Magazine.

In fact, don't miss it!! It sheds some much needed light on the controversial Beale Street Landing and raises questions that need attention before the City decides whether or not to sink more money into the boat dock. Brandon Dill's spectacular photos capture the immensity and power of the winter Mississippi. For non-subscribers, the magazine should be just-out on the newsstands or coming soon.

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2 FfOR Board Members Profiled on City Beat


June West, Executive Director of Memphis Heritage, and Virginia McLean, both founding members of FfOR, were profiled in the Flyer's City Beat as preservationists to be reckoned with.

Preservation is not about protecting old buildings as relics; it's about saving our significant places for present and future use. At the core of new urbanism and smart growth, the preservation movement is about revitalizing our cities and neighborhoods as places people want to be and live. It's why people advocate for protecting the Old Forest, the Cobblestone Landing, the fabric of downtown, and neighborhoods citywide.

Hooray for the work and voices of a long list of Memphians, men and women! Today Memphis retains an authenticity and vitality that is the envy of many cities who have lost their sense of place to the wrecking ball and short-sighted decision making.

Read more »

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Opportunity to Protect Old Forest


Great news from Citizens to Preserve Overton Park: Rep. Jeanne Richardson and Sen. Beverly Marrero have sponsored legislation that will provide legal protection to the old growth forest of Overton Park!

Citizens to Protect Overton Park (CPOP) is asking that Memphians stand up for the Old Forest by writing letters supporting the bills, SB 2415 and HB 2563. Click HERE for more information and the names and e-mails of those to contact.

1 family has captained local fleet and given Memphis proud tradition


Photos of Dale & William Lozier by Amie Vanderford.

For the late Capt. Thomas Meredith Meanley, his daughter Dale Meanley Lozier, and now his grandson, William Lozier, a love of the river has provided Memphians and visitors a trip on the “Mighty Mississippi.” They’ve built, owned, and operated a fleet of boats that have headed out from the Cobblestone Landing for 50 years. And they’ve done it with little support from the City.

After a stint in the Navy, Capt. Meanley, the grandson of newspaper tycoon E. W. Scripps, moved to Memphis and (click read more below)

Read more »

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Unrealistic to expect local company assume cost increases of switch to BSL


With overnight riverboat companies out of business, our local Memphis Riverboats will be the only company using Beale Street Landing. Right now they pay to dock at the Cobblestone Landing, but plans for BSL call for ticketing and boarding of local tours to shift to the new boat dock.

Q: Is there a need for Beale Street Landing, or would the cobblestone landing we already have, with improvements that would cost less, suffice?

A. In an interview for the Daily News in 2006, the current owner of Memphis Riverboats Inc., Capt. William Lozier, said he thinks the cobblestones are a better investment. “We like where we’re at,” Lozier said. “Yeah, we’d like a new facility, but a new facility comes with new problems.”

BSL will come with serious debt (roughly $2M in annual interest alone) and new maintenance and operating expenses. What will those costs increases be? No one has said, but it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect our local company to assume them.

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BRRRR - Ice Flow

Even in the coldest weather, the river is beautiful and fascinating. Here are two photos by Joe Royer taken while kayaking earlier this week.


Memphisshelbyinform.com Looks at B$L

Calls for Change on Riverfront

New citizens' group, led by Memphis watchdog Joe Saino, looks at Beale Street Landing, RDC finances, and says WHOA-Beale Street Landing? $$$$

The Riverfront work is only about 20% complete and now is the time to put it on hold, call for an audit of money spent and committed and form a citizen RIVERFRONT CONSERVANCY group to make a plan that has broad public support, contains no self interested parties and with the objectives of a lower cost, lower maintenance, historically accurate and publically usable and accessible riverfront. The present plan keeps growing in cost and now is the time to put it on hold and come up with a plan that makes sense and that is not so costly and controversial.

Memphisshelbyinform.com's goal is to monitor and investigate government activities, conflicts of interest, waste and abuse, ordinances, and regulations “in the hope that a better-informed electorate will lead to better government."

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Setting Development Guidelines

FfOR is committed to good urban design, strong neighborhoods, and a revitalized/healthy downtown.

This Sat., Jan. 16, from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. at the Memphis College of Art Memphis Heritage, Memphis Regional Design Center, and Memphis & Shelby County Division of Planning & Development will hold an open public meeting to discuss:
* Status of the Overton Square Redevelopment Application
* Questions from Citizens on the Status of Application
* Work beginning on Special Guidelines for future Infill Development in Midtown
* Citizen Comments & Ideas for future Development in Midtown.

It’s an opportunity to learn more and participate in setting good design principles. For more info. call 272-2727.

Law School Opens


Students are downtown! It’s a promising new burst of energy, and the U of M renovation of the historic Customs House on the Public Promenade is something all Memphians can be excited about.

An opening reception will be held this Sat., Jan. 16 to celebrate the move.