Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

For the past month and a half I have been working on an assignment. Scott McCormick, who chairs the Parks Committee of the City Council, said that he would bring a resolution to a vote before the council, if I could produce one. This would be a resolution to save Memphis's historic park, closed for two years now during the Fairgrounds redevelopment study. Our park has been the only thing to remain off-limits for this two-year period. Flea markets, gun shows, and even the MidSouth Fair are still ongoing through 2008.

So I got to work on a resolution. The document has been signed by a diverse mix of local non-profit directors, youth camp organizers, ministers, and community garden experts. However, it has been bumped from the agenda twice now down at City Hall.

Here is the resolution, for perusal and comment. Just to show that when I am charged with a task, I complete it. It's a tad long-winded, but I have never done this before, so apologies to all.


WHEREAS, the historic park located at the site of the former Libertyland has been closed, resulting in the loss of 500 summer jobs for youth; and

WHEREAS, the sudden closure has not been offset by any indoor/outdoor,
history/art/culture/theatre/music-oriented comparable program for youth; and

WHEREAS, the local effort to preserve this historic site has resulted in the preservation of Memphis's Grand Carousel and Zippin Pippin
rollercoaster; and

WHEREAS, the assessed value of these twin historic landmarks is $6
Million; and

WHEREAS, a well-documented "public process" has for two years sought
"public input" on the outcome of an ongoing re-use process for this area and surrounding acreage; and

WHEREAS, a well-documented rise in violent crime threatens local
families due to loss of secure areas within Midtown and surrounding
neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, the existing site described herein is ideally located as an enclosed, centralized gathering-place for surrounding residential neighborhoods, including but not limited to: Beltline, Orange Mound, Cooper-Young, Idlewild, and others; and

WHEREAS, restoring this existing park to the public for purposes of
year-round recreation and summer programs for youth, built around the
Creative Arts Building, Grand Carousel, Zippin Pippin, and existing
pavilions, outbuildings, walking trails, and parkways, would thus fill
the vacuum in youth and family services created by the sudden closure of this venue; and

WHEREAS, the re-branding of this park as a memorial to Mike Crockett,
the young African-American employee of Libertyland who died in a tragic
accident aboard the aforementioned Carousel, is a crucial step in honoring African-American contributions and sacrifices at this historic site; and

WHEREAS, no stated plan exists for this historic site beyond demolition
Of the site by the City of Memphis; and

WHEREAS, the City Council has appropriated $137,000 to keep the aforementioned site closed, a figure that is not subject to oversight;

WHEREAS, repeated visits to the site by local elected officials have found no sign of a paid, professional guard;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the area described, comprising the former
Libertyland acreage on the Southwest corner of the Fairgrounds, be
re-named the MIKE CROCKETT MEMORIAL PARK; be re-opened and returned to its historic use as a centrally located park for families and children; and be utilized for future Summer Programs for Youth as a venue available to local non-profit groups and citizen's networks operating as supporters of youth, family, culture, history, the arts, and recreation; and that the aforementioned $137,000 be directed toward re-opening and securing the site, with additional monies for the site and future Summer Youth Programs to be raised on-site through existing venues (Creative Arts Building, stages, outbuildings, pavilions, the Carousel, etc.) by affiliated non-profits discussed herein, including volunteer efforts and associated outreach.

** These figures based on National Carousel Association information and
information provided from on-site inspection by George Laibe of
International Amusement Alliance, LLC.


Denise Parkinson
founder, Save Libertyland!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

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Now is the time for all good Memphians to come to the aid of their city! With the upcoming local elections October 4, 2007, we have the opportunity to chart a new course, set new priorities, and bring Memphis into the 21st Century. Here’s a few things I’d like to see happen:

1) Inclusiveness vs. Divisiveness: Let’s view Memphis as a collection of hardworking families dedicated to making a better world. Let’s replace negative rhetoric with meaningful communication – starting in City Hall, where civil discourse is sorely needed.

2) Ethics, Above All: Our city’s leaders project Memphis’s image to the world. Let’s set higher standards and become a beacon of hope, not an abyss of cynicism.

3) Do A Lot With A Little: Huge, costly public projects that divert millions of tax dollars MUST take a backseat to bread-and-butter issues like crime prevention, clean streets, and reliable services.

4) Job Creation vs. Cronyism: Job creation can no longer be restricted to an elite few at the expense of the taxpayer.

5) Parks vs. Pavement: Memphis’s parks have been neglected for far too long. It is time to reawaken our sense of civic pride and tend our garden.

6) Promotion, promotion, promotion: Let’s promote Memphis’s authenticity, ingenuity, creativity, and talent. Our location as the nation’s hub for commerce by rail, road, and river must be maximized to accommodate emerging technologies. Memphis’s historic place as the nation’s most diverse and productive Southern city must be honored and supported.

I urge you to challenge the status quo and help take Memphis to a higher level so that we can all be proud of our home and make it a destination for the world. I pledge to do my part and this is why I want to represent the heart of Memphis as your District 5 City Councilperson. I wish to express the utmost gratitude to everyone who has encouraged our local effort to lift up our city over the past two years. This campaign is the next step in seeking justice for all Memphians. Welcome to this forum for discussion and action!