Greenprint’s Imprint on Memphis

Posted on March 27, 2015

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1424898184By Kelsey Young

While driving on East Parkway past Overton Park, it is hard not to notice the bright and colorful conglomerate of bikes atop a steel arch. The arch is the entrance to the pedestrian-bike trail in Overton Park and was recently built about a year ago, further beautifying the park. Yet Overton Park is not the only green space that has undergone improvements recently; Shelby Farms is also undergoing a massive renovation and re-planning. Parks, green spaces, and greenways in Memphis have all been undergoing change lately, and the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan is one such program implementing change within the region.

In November of 2011, Shelby County was awarded the “HUD Sustainable Communities Planning Grant” of 2.6 million dollars, and thus The Greenprint initiative was created. Greenprint is designed to enhance regional livability and sustainability by improving and expanding green space in the tri-state area. Greenprint plans on improving bike paths, greenways, parks, conservation lands, natural areas, wildlife management areas, community gardens, storm water management areas, and open space areas.

Focusing on the primary goal, that being Mississippi’s DeSoto county, Tennessee’s Shelby and Fayette County, and Arkansas’ Crittenden County, this project plans to connect the green spaces in the region through a network of greenways. To create such a network of green spaces, it will take 25 years. Greenprint’s plan anticipates the construction of 500 miles of off-street greenways and 200 miles of on-street routes, ultimately connecting the four counties. With the plan starting within the year, Greenprint should be completed in 2040.

Connecting green spaces is not Greenprint’s only goal in the Memphis area however; they hope to improve the livability in Memphis even more. With the new network and expansion of greens paces in the region, Greenprint intends to improve public transportation to and between these greenways and parks. This will provide connections between different communities in Memphis and encourage people to get out and use the new greenways and spaces.

Affordable and equitable housing implemented by Greenprint is also present in the 25-year plan. The project will improve environment conditions in urban areas through the creation of nicer parks and green spaces. As well as planning land use, zoning changes will create more affordable and equitable housing in the region.

Additionally, out of the expanded green spaces, Memphis will see more economic competition, which will further the growth of the city’s economy. The improved green spaces will attract and retain businesses and residents in the Memphis area. New jobs will appear as a by-product as businesses start booming and growing. Businesses will need to hire more people to keep their productivity, thus providing opportunities for Memphians all over the city.

With Memphis often seen as a very dangerous city, Greenprint’s final plan is to improve the public health of the city and impact low-income and marginalized areas of Memphis. Greenprint has a strategy to expand greenways into low-income neighborhoods and into neighborhoods with affordable housing, therefore improving the quality of life in those areas and encouraging the neighborhoods to be more active and support healthy lifestyles. With the encouragement of active lifestyles and expansion of greenways, public health will improve, just as neighborhoods will become safer and more walk-able. Due to this project, Memphis has a lot of green things to look forward to.

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