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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Shelby Farms Park will have a completely new look and feel for visitors within a year

Shelby Farms Park will have a completely new look and feel for visitors within a year
By:  Michael Lander

The Shelby Farms Greenline currently ends at the intersection
of Farm and Mullins Station Rd, but 4.1 miles will be added
within the next year taking it to a former railroad depot in
Cordova, Tenn.

Shelby Farms Park is undergoing a major facelift, but what is being done there is more than just cosmetic.

The $52 million facelift, or remodeling project, that’s currently underway on this extremely popular Memphis area park, will provide visitors with brand new facilities, amenities, attractions, more scenic vistas, ecological restoration and enhancements, and extended paved trails.

For pedestrians and cyclists, the biggest improvement will include a
4.1 mile expansion to the east on the Shelby Farms Greenline, which will connect a former railroad depot in Cordova to where the greenline currently ends at the intersection of Farms and Mullins Station Rd.

Much of the earthwork currently underway at Shelby Farms
Park involves a complete redevelopment and re-sizing of
Patriot Lake, which will be the centerpiece of what is
being billed as the "Heart of the Park."

This extension will directly connect Shelby Farms to even more communities to the east of it.  And, after the
Wolf River Greenway is extended 18.4 miles to downtown Memphis by mid-2018, people will eventually be able to walk, run, or ride their bikes from nearby Memphis municipalities, over the Harahan Bridge, to West Memphis, Ark. and beyond on a seemingly endless network of trails.

The park will also have two new 2.34 mile paved trails around Patriot Lake, one of which will be a faster track for bicycles.  The lake, itself, is undergoing extensive changes and will nearly double in size and it will experience an
ecological restoration effort in the process.

After the work is completed at Patriot Lake, two 2.34 mile
trails will loop around and will run alongside it with one
for cyclists and another for pedestrians.

Patriot Lake will be the crown jewel in what Shelby Farms Park has labeled as its Heart of the Park initiative.  The Heart of the Park will be an active and playful centerpiece unlike anything that the park has ever had in its long and storied history.

Heart of the Park will feature a First Tennessee Foundation Visitor Center, a FedEx Event Center with a kitchen restaurant, an event pavilion, a boat kiosk, an additional bike rental facility, and new lakeside pavilions or crickets with covered spaces for picnics, family reunions, parties, and gatherings at the edge of Patriot Lake.

Overlooking a newly redesigned Patriot Lake will be a brand
new visitor and event center, pavilions, and areas for people
to gather and to have picnics.

The park is in the second (blue phase) of a
four part renovation project that is expected to be fully completed by the fall of 2016.  The first (or green phase) is already finished and it included a new hiking and cycling trail.  The blue phase will see, among other things, a western expansion of Patriot Lake and a bike and pedestrian connection restored around James Pond.

Under the third (orange phase), construction will be completed on the visitor center, the event center, the kitchen restaurant, the phase 3 lake trails, and the second bike rental facility.

The Shelby Farms Greenline project is currently underway
with the railroad tracks removed and the surface leveled
out, but not yet paved.  This is a view near the Mullins
Station and Whitten Rd intersection, looking west.

The fourth (purple phase) will put the finishing touches to the multi-year project and will include replenishing Patriot Lake.

After all is said and done, by the fall of 2016, Shelby Farms Park will be more user and visitor-friendly than ever before.  Cyclists, and others, will have a place to stop and eat, a better place to ride, an ever-expanding access to the park via a bicycle, more bicycles to rent, and new and improved trails for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Even with all the construction work going on at the park these days, it is still a great place to ride through with only a minimal amount of areas that are blocked off because of the work that is being done there.

Shelby Farms Park is experiencing a complete remodeling
with new facilities, attractions, and more scenic vistas
overlooking a completely redesigned Patriot Lake.

Click here for on-going construction and possible detour information.

None of this should be enough to deter bike riders from riding to and through the park.  While there, they can see the park as it takes shape and see it being transformed into what will ultimately be a premier recreational and entertainment oasis in the heart of our magnificent and thriving city.

To see a video of what Shelby Farms Park and the Heart of the Park will look like after all of the work is done,
click here.

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