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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bicycles offer a unique way to tour Memphis' civil rights landmarks and important sites in black history

Bicycles offer a unique way to tour Memphis’ civil rights landmarks and important sites in black history
By:  Michael Lander

The Civil Rights Museum is one of the best museums in the country
in chronicling and displaying the 500 years of slavery, the civil
rights movement, and the seminal events that helped to bring
about more equality and change to our nation.

February is recognized, nationally, as being
Black History Month and Memphis has at least one prominent civil rights landmark and a few other locations around the city where people can learn more about the history and struggles of black Americans. 

Fortunately, for those who want to see these in Memphis, most, if not all, of them are only a bike ride away from one another.

With the close proximity of these civil rights landmarks and important sites in black history are to each other, bicycles can offer one of the best and most up close and personal ways to go to and from them in Memphis.

The best known and most frequently visited civil rights landmark in Memphis is the
Civil Rights Museum that was once the Lorraine Motel where the iconic civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was slain on April 4, 1968.

The first civil rights museum in the country is located at 450 Mulberry Street and it contains artifacts, films, photographic images, interactive media, and more, encompassing five centuries of slavery, the rise of
Jim Crow, and the pivotal events in the fight for equality.

Beale Street is an extremely popular destination spot and that is
due in much part to the musical contribution of the legendary
musicians like B.B. King and W.C. Handy who called
Memphis their home.  It was their music, and that of
others (with blues, soul, jazz, and gospel) who
communicated the black experience in song.

From the Civil Rights Museum, it is only a very short bike ride to 143 Beale Street where the legendary Blues singer, guitarist, and songwriter,
B.B. King, established his Blues Club.  Nearby, is the W.C. Handy Park and museum at 352 Beale.  Handy was an American Blues composer and musician who is known as the “Father of the Blues.”

Approximately three miles southeast from there is the
Stax Museum of American Soul Music at 926 E. McLemore Ave.

Music, unlike almost anything else, was an integral part of the black experience that enabled slaves and former slaves to carry on some of the rich musical and oral traditions from Africa.  It provided a way for black Americans to express themselves when there was no other way to do so.

From this arose blues, which, through the lyrics, often conveyed the heartbreaks, disappointments, and troubles of the difficult lives for many black Americans.

Later, soul music came about, which combined elements of gospel, rhythm and blues, and jazz, and it signified the emerging sense of the identity, consciousness and pride in the people and culture that inspired it.

From the music that spoke to the hearts of those who once had no voice in their own destiny, Memphis also has other places that honor black Americans who achieved success and made a difference for themselves, their community, and for the country.

At the corner of Fourth and
Beale Street is the Robert Reed Church monument and park that honors the black American entrepreneur, businessman, landowner, and philanthropist.  He was one of the richest black men in the South during the late 19th and early 20th Century.

Church founded the first black owned bank in Memphis, which extended credit to blacks so they could buy homes and start businesses of their own.

Robert Church was one of the most prominent black Americans
in Memphis in the late 1800's to early 1900's.  He is someone
who, through his life, inspired others and who should be
remembered in Memphis' black history.  He is interred in
a mausoleum at Elmwood Cemetery.

He is interred in a mausoleum at
Elmwood Cemetery, which is the final resting places for many famous, not so famous, and long forgotten Memphians, (both black and white), since 1852.

Elmwood Cemetery is about a three mile bicycle ride from Beale Street and is located at 824 South Dudley St.

Near the
FedEx Forum is a historical marker for the civil rights advocate and anti-lynching crusader, journalist, and co-founder of the NAACP, Ida B. Wells.  This marker is near the site of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper, which Wells co-owned.  The newspaper was destroyed by an angry mob after it printed an article on March 9, 1892, that denounced the lynching of three black men.

Just a short bike ride from Beale Street is found the
Mississippi River and Tom Lee Park.  The park is named for a black man, Tom Lee, who was recognized as a local hero who risked his life on May 8, 1925, to save 32 men, women, and children from drowning in the Mississippi River.  For his heroic act, a monument and a statue were erected in his honor.

This statue was erected and a park named in honor of the local
hero, Tom Lee, who saved the lives of 32 people on the
Mississippi River in Memphis.  This is a fitting tribute to a
man who risked his life to help save others and he is a
great role model for all, regardless of race.

Decades before Lee did this, on June 6, 1862, the
Battle of Memphis took place when Union forces navigated their way down the mighty Mississippi River, defeated Confederate forces, and seized the city from the Confederacy, and occupied it until the American Civil War ended in 1865.

Prior to that, the
antebellum South thrived on the cotton industry, which relied on the forced labor of hundreds of thousands of slaves.  Much of the cotton from the area was loaded and shipped from the shoreline of Memphis.  Memphis, inevitably, became a major slave market, and prior to the Civil War, a quarter of the city’s population were slaves.

Some slaves, in a desperate attempt at seeking freedom, turned to the
Underground Railroad to escape to the free states in the North.  The Memphis home of Jacob Burkle was one of their way stations on their route to freedom.

The Burkle home is now the
Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.  It is located at 826 N. Second Street and it is approximately a three-mile bike ride to the northeast from Tom Lee Park.

From the Burkle home to other notable landmarks and historical sites, bicycling provides an opportunity for everyone to stop and experience what Memphis once was and what it is today.  Perhaps, in doing this, we all can take something from it and know where we should go from here.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jim Morgan and his friends in the Mid South Trail Association have a passion for mountain biking

Jim Morgan and his friends in the Mid South Trail Association have a passion for mountain biking
By:  Michael Lander

Jim Morgan is in the forefront of this photo with several of his friends
as they are out on an afternoon ride off Collierville Arlington Rd
on the Wolf River environmental land.  Mountain bikers often
refer to it as the "gravel grinder."

Some might say that
life is better on a mountain bike.  For Memphians like Jim Morgan, it often can be.

Morgan spends most of his days as a regional account executive for a non-profit healthcare company in
Memphis, but every chance that he gets, he likes to hit the trails and feel the earth beneath him and the fields and woods around him on his mountain bike.

The bike that he currently owns and loves is a Specialized EVO COMP
Stumpjumper that is a full suspension 29er.  It is one of seven bikes that he has had since he took up mountain biking less than a decade ago.

“I have been biking all of my life, but I really got into mountain biking around 2007, after I bought my first mountain bike, got out into the woods, and met a lot of really cool local riders while I was out on the trails,” Morgan said. 

Since then, Morgan has been a member of the Mid South Trails Association (MSTA) and last year, in 2015, he was its president.

“I had to step down as president this year, though, because of my busy work schedule, but the Mid South Trails Association is a great local organization that is made up of volunteers who help maintain all of the local area trails,” Morgan said.

Mountain bike trails are a great escape and an
adventure, which can be a totally different
experience depending upon the weather
conditions, the time of day, or the time of
year these cyclists ride.

Even though he might not be able to ride as much as he’d like, Morgan’s passion for it hasn’t diminished any over the years.

“I love being outside on the trails and in the woods.  We have some really nice places to ride right here in the city limits.  We are very lucky here in Memphis.  In a lot of other places, people have to drive a lot of miles because they don’t have any local area trails.  I also like the people and the mountain bike community.  It is really a close tight knit group,” Morgan said.

“For years, I used to ride my bike just about every day of the week and I would average around 250 to 300 miles a month and about 3,000 miles a year.  I have a job now where I travel a lot, and that cuts into my ride time, but I am still out there riding every chance I get,” he added. 

While his job may interfere with his riding time, the weather, and little else keeps him away from it. 

“I ride throughout the year. Some of the manufacturers make some really good quality gear so you can ride even in the winter and it doesn't get too cold for me around here, but when the trails are too wet, that’s when I ride on the roads,” Morgan said.

Part of the fun of mountain bike riding is
the diverse terrain and the exhilaration
that comes from the unpredictability of
what's ahead of you, not to mention
jumps, precipitous drops, etc.

When it comes to places where he likes to ride, Morgan and his friends have found plenty in and around the Memphis area to choose from.

“The Wolf River trails are a short drive from my house and, on the weekends, I usually ride from my house to those trails. That is my local trail that I spend the most of my time on, but I ride them all.  The
Tour De Wolf within Shelby Farms is being improved and Herb Parsons is a great trail that is very well maintained and Stanky Creek is another that is pretty challenging," Morgan said.

"I don't get to travel around to ride my bike that much anymore, but Arkansas has some wonderful trails and so does Alabama, too. They are great weekend trips.  There are also some great trails in North Mississippi around Oxford and Sardis, as well as around
Arkabutla Lake,” he added.

Among the mountain bike trails in the Memphis area that Morgan and his fellow mountain biking friends in the
Mid South Trails Association are concerned about are the ones in the Lucius Burch State Natural (LBSN) Area. 

A new route for the
Wolf River Greenway trail has been proposed and is being considered, which they believe will have a detrimental impact on the existing mountain bike trails.

Mountain bikes give cyclists a chance to go and
see places that they might not get to otherwise.

“The proposed Greenway trail through the LBSN is not needed and I am completely against it,” Morgan said.

“It needs to stay on the other side of the river or for it to go further east of the current mountain bike trails and through the fields near the power lines.  As someone who rides those trails every day, and helps to maintain them, it would be pretty devastating to me to see a 12 foot paved path put in with a three to four foot buffer on each side through those woods.  I would say that most of the mountain bike community is opposed to this and there are plenty of other options and routes, which should be considered,” Morgan added.

For Morgan, and others like him, he would also like for others in the community-at-large to know what all that mountain bikers do.

“I want others to know that mountain bikers are really concerned with the environment and the upkeep of trails. Not many people know that the local mountain bike community and the MSTA do all of the upkeep on the local area trails and they are all volunteers.  Runners, hikers, and equestrians do not do any organized trail work and Shelby Farms does not maintain the trails out there.  It is all done by mountain bikers.  We do it all.  I don't think a lot of people even realize that.  If we weren't out there doing all of the work, then the trails would not be accessible or maintained,” Morgan said.

One of the best parts of mountain bike riding is getting to hang
out with those who enjoy it as much as you do.  This photo
was taken at the railroad tracks near Jackson Ave. on the Epic
trail in the Wolf River bottoms with Mollie Curlin Smith, Poppy
Seelbinder, Dylan Vance, Chris Lockhart, Brian Travis, and
Lynell Barber.

For those interested in getting started with mountain biking, themselves, Morgan has a few
suggestions for them.

“I would suggest getting a good bike and not one from Target or Walmart.  You can get a good bike for $800 to
$1,000.  It’s definitely worth spending a little money to get yourself a good bike because there can be some major differences in the quality between those that are less than $1,000 and those that cost more than that.  After that, I’d recommend joining a local Facebook group like Mid South Mountain Bikes or Mid South Trails Association.  You can learn a lot from these groups and you can meet riders and join up with them on group rides.   The Mid South Mountain Bike community is a great group of people from all walks of life, and there are many riders who would love to help new people get into the sport,” Morgan said.

After that, he has some very simple advice.

“Just go out there and hit the trails and ride, ride, ride,” he said.

In addition to all this, Morgan says that it also really helps to have someone who encourages or supports you with your bike riding.  For him, he has found that with his wife, Christi.  

For Morgan, mountain biking can also be a really great way to stay in shape, which he has sought to do since his days at Ole Miss University, where he was on scholarship and where he lettered in baseball in his four years there.

Jim Morgan is in the forefront of this photo with Tony Longo
behind him. 

Even though he no longer plays baseball, he does get a great workout from his mountain biking and that is something he plans to do for many years to come.

With his wife behind him, his mountain biking friends around him, and the mountain bike trails ahead of him, life could not be better for mountain bikers like Morgan.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Australian artist takes images of cyclists and turns them into art

Australian artist takes images of cyclists and turns them into art
By:  Michael Lander

Shirley Peters is an artist from Australia who has a
particular affinity for painting cyclists, especially
those who ride in one of the biggest stages in
competitive cycling - The Tour de France.

In many ways, cycling can almost seem as though it is like artwork in motion.

With the spinning of tires, the rotation of the pedals and chain rings, and the swaying and turning of a group of cyclists, who often move in unison with one another, undulating like waves in the ocean, it is almost as if you are watching art literally moving and unfolding before you.

Shirley Peters in an artist who attempts to capture this on canvas.  Her interest in painting cyclists began with one of the greatest of cycling events – the Tour de France.

“I’ve been following the Tour de France since the early nineties, when the first Australian started racing.  Our sports-crazy TV station, SBS, delivered it ‘live’ in the middle of the night.  In 2011, I tweeted about the lovely Lycra-clad backsides in Le Tour, and a twitter follower asked me if I ever painted them.  I didn’t, but I took that as a challenge and I started to sketch the racers,” Peters said.

After finding a way to freeze-frame the fast-paced action of the Tour de France on her TV set, Peters was able to get some good racing images from which to recreate it into an art form.

“Before long, I had many good racing images to choose from.  I looked for a ‘wow’ shot, one that shows a dramatic breakaway or a finishing line dash.  I then sketched it, and painted it with watercolour (watercolor), and it was up on eBay as soon as the paint was dry,” Peters said.

Shirley Peters work, in watercolor, entitled - Descending
the Alps, depicts cyclists in the Tour de France as they
descend the mountainous region known as the Alps.  It is one
of the most challenging stages of the 23-day, 3,500 kilometer
event.

Through her paintings, Peters is interested in capturing these world class athletes on their bikes, but she also wanted to convey the drama and the stories that surround the Tour de France.

“I love the drama of the race and the fitness of the racers.  I want to catch the subtle shift of weight into a curve, the down-press on a steep incline, and the sheer mindless dash at the finish line.  Even a relaxing section where the cyclists pass a drink and have a chat – it’s a story that is so visual.  We are very lucky to have the cameras travelling with the race.  If we only saw it from the side lines, we’d miss all those details,” Peters said.

As much as Peters loves painting cyclists in the Tour de France, some of her work has also included other cyclists in more casual and non-competitive settings.

“I enjoy painting cyclists.  Bikes have a special appeal and my favourite (favorite) cities are Amsterdam and Beijing.  Both are full of bikes.  When I paint these cities, I inevitably include a bike or two.  But, with that said, I don’t do the other races, for example, the Tour Down Under.  For some reason, it’s my love of France that makes the French race so interesting,” Peters said.

Peters, who is from Australia, (the Land Down Under), began her pursuit of art early in life and she hasn’t looked back since then.

“I’ve been painting since high school.  I studied Fine Art in college, but changed to Graphic Design, as I thought that would make a better career.  I worked in commercial studios as a designer creating logos, advertising, brochure layouts, magazines and, later, websites.  I was still illustrating children’s books on the side, and painting with oils and watercolors as a hobby,” Peters said.

Shirley Peters work, in watercolor, entitled - The Rear,
depicts cyclists in a large peloton during the Tour de
France.

“Like many others, I had a mid-life assessment.  I asked myself what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life.  The answer for me was to paint so I enrolled at a local art school and had fun for two years, refreshing my painting and printmaking knowledge,” she added.

Peters describes her style of art, which includes her paintings of cyclists, as being much less rigid and much more gestural in nature.

“Everyone starts out, for example, signing their name very neatly, but as the years go by, their signature loses its original shape, and sometimes becomes just a few weird dashes and crosses.  This is a ‘gesture’ – a loose mark.  My painting strokes are becoming like a gesture – less realism, and slightly more abstract.  And, I find that this is a one-way journey.  The more I paint, the looser my work becomes,” Peter said.

The influences which define much of her artwork today is very eclectic and it is derived from artists over a broad spectrum, both historically and geographically.

“My first influence was the Renaissance paintings, which I saw when I traveled to Italy.  They are moody, mysterious, and usually they tell a story.  I have often used the lights and darks of the Renaissance paintings in my works,” Peters said.

French impressionism has also had a considerable influence on Peters and the artwork that she creates.

“I studied the French Impressionists at art school, in my 20’s, and they have influenced my appreciation of “En Plein Air’ landscape, which means painting in the open air, and painting exactly what you see,” she said.

Shirley Peters work, in watercolor, entitled - The Red
Hat, depicts a street scene setting with cyclists riding
on a rainy late afternoon day.

The last of the greatest influences on her came from China.

“In China, I had the opportunity to watch traditional Chinese artists at work. One was painting bamboo branches with a few deft strokes and he let me use his brushes, inks, and rice paper,” Peters said.

When it comes to the types of paint, Peters has knowledge and experience with watercolors, acrylic, and oils, but she currently has a preference for watercolors and acrylic paint.

“I use both watercolor and acrylic.  Watercolor is very expressive, and easy to use, providing you don’t want to make a change.  Every brushstroke is visible.  Acrylics are easier and are the most versatile.  They are bright and splashy and can be used thinly, like watercolor, and thick, like oil paints,” Peters said.

Even though she lets the marketplace decide on the pricing range for her cyclist-related artwork, there are various factors that can determine what the final asking price might be.



Shirley Peters work, in watercolor, entitled -
The Call, depicts a street scene with cyclists,
one of who is taking a phone call.  Peters
likes to incorporate images of bicycles into
some of her paintings.

“I let the market decide on the Tour de France paintings.  I start at about $60 (U.S. $50) and the bids will determine the finish price.  The top price has been about $140.  My acrylic paintings, however, are a different matter.  They are much larger, painted on canvas, take more time to produce, and I have sometimes had a gallery commission to cover.  But, with that said, the size of the work makes the biggest difference in pricing.  Very large paintings are $1,600 and the $2,400 paintings are not only large, but are framed with a Perspex cover.  Also, if a painting wins a prize, it is going to be much more expensive,” Peters said.

For those interested in viewing any of Peters’ artwork that is available for sale, they can visit her website at:   http://www.shirleypeters.com/Le_Tour_Bike_Art.html.    Additional information about her and her artwork can also be found on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/shirleypetersart/?fref=ts.

Behind her love for painting, Peters also has a love for cycling.

“My favourite (favorite) sport is cycling.  I have a great, little bike that I bought from a friend.  It is light and fast.  There have been so many distractions now that my husband and I have moved to a five acre property at the foot of the Blue Mountains, near Sydney and I’m lucky to ride once a month nowadays, but we also have a motorhome and we intend to strap my bike to the back for our future trips,” Peters said.


Shirley Peters is in her studio and she has her pallet ready
and is prepared to put the finishes touches on one of her
paintings.

In this way, not only does Peters depict cyclists on canvas, but she, herself, becomes a part of the beauty and artwork of motion that many see in cycling.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wolf River Conservancy's Greenway trail will be a dream come true for Memphis and Shelby County

Wolf River Conservancy’s Greenway trail will be a dream come true for Memphis and Shelby County
By:  Michael Lander

The greenline and greenway trails in and around Memphis
are extremely popular with cyclists and others.  More
people are expected to ride, walk, and run on them,
especially after the Wolf River Greenway trail is
completed in 2019.

Good things, we are often told, come to those who wait. 

For runners, walkers, and cyclists looking for a trail system, that is unlike any other, that wait may not be very much longer.

Beginning this year, the Wolf River Conservancy will embark upon a three-year project that will ultimately provide them with a
greenway trail that will likely be a dream come true for many of them.

For over 30 years, the
conservancy has been dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the Wolf River, and its watershed, and with ensuring that it will be available for exploration, recreation, and for the educational opportunities of this unique area now and in the future.

Construction of the
Wolf River Greenway trail from Humphrey’s Blvd westward to the Mississippi River will begin this year and it is expected to be completed by 2019.

The trail was first conceived soon after the conservancy was first
founded in 1985 by members of this fledgling non-profit organization. 

These members (or what some might call visionaries) immediately began the quest to have one long, continuous trail and wildlife corridor that would essentially follow along the
Wolf River as it meandered its way around and through the city of Memphis.        

Decades later, this vision or dream for a greenway trail is finally on its way to becoming a reality thanks to the conservancy, the
City of Memphis, and the many others who have, in one way or another, been actively involved in the process of making that dream a reality.

Chuck Flink (in a red striped shirt on the left) and Andy Hays (in the blue shirt
on the right) are with Alta Planning + Design and the two have met, talked
with, addressed concerns, and answered many questions at public meetings
with the first of these held in October 2015.

“The Wolf River Greenway project is the culmination of years of hard work by many volunteers and professionals who share a vision for the corridor.  We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from just about every neighborhood that we have touched and I am absolutely ecstatic to be a part of it,” 
Andy Hays said.

Hays is an Alta Planning + Design Memphis Design Associate who has been active in planning greenways, trail projects, and urban design projects for over 20 years like the Shelby Farms Greenline, the Harahan Bridge, extensions of the Bluffwalk downtown, and now the Wolf River Greenway.

Since October 2015, the Wolf River Conservancy, along with the planning, engineering, and design firm that they hired 18 months ago,
Alta Planning + Design, has been hosting public meetings and open house workshops concerning the much-anticipated Wolf River Greenway trail.

The trail will run to and from the
Mississippi River in downtown Memphis to Collierville, traversing urban and natural areas along the way, where it will connect Memphis area residents and their communities to one another, and it will intersect with other local area trails like the ever-popular Shelby Farms Greenline.

Shelby Farms Park Conservancy Executive Director, Laura Adam, and the
Wolf River Conservancy Executive Director, Keith Cole, listen to the Alta
Planning + Design Senior Advisor, Chuck Flink, as he discusses a new
proposed route in the Lucius Burch State Park area on December 8,
2015 public meeting.

The most recent public meeting on the greenway took place at
Ducks Unlimited National Headquarters on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. 

The Shelby Farms Park Conservancy Executive Director,
Laura Adams briefly spoke about the cooperative relationship between Shelby Farms Park and the Wolf River Conservancy and its executive director, Keith Cole, spoke about the history of his organization and its efforts for a greenway trail. 

Chuck Flink
, who is the Senior Advisor for Alta Planning + Design, and who has been involved with 725 greenway projects in 36 states and half-a-dozen of them around the world, also spoke and he provided some recent updates on the trail system, itself, and a new proposed route for the trail in the 728-acrea Lucius E. Burch, Jr. State Natural Area (LBSNA) that is part of the 4,500 acres within Shelby Farms Park.

Originally, the Wolf River Greenway trail was planned to run alongside of
Interstate 240, on the west side of the Wolf River.  However, after members of Alta Planning + Design went out to survey the site, they found that, because of its extremely close proximity to the interstate, the area was a far less than ideal location for the trail and that it would, therefore, not provide for a pleasant and enjoyable experience for those walking, running, or riding a bike on it.

Cyclists will have a wide variety of scenery to look at
after the 36-mile Wolf River Greenway trail is
completed, which will connect many neighborhoods
and communities from downtown Memphis to
Collierville.

“The trail alignment on the west side of the Wolf River is very close to the highly congested interstate that is undergoing expansion.  The remaining buffer between the edge of the road pavement, and possible location of the Wolf River Greenway, is so small that future trail users would be negatively impacted by the noise and speed of nearby traffic,” Hays said.

“To build the Greenway on the west side of the river will require extensive structural solutions, of roughly the same cost as a route through the Lucius Birch State Natural Area (LBSNA).  We prefer to route the trail through a portion of the LBSNA because it is a much more enjoyable, trail-like experience – enjoyable for a wide range of trail users.  We respect that the LBSNA is already in use by mountain bike riders and pedestrians and are hoping to find a route and alignment for the Greenway that will be acceptable for all concerns,” he added.

With that being the case, an alternative and potentially more desirable route through the
Lucius Burch area was drawn up by Alta Planning + Design that would cross over the Wolf River and would follow along the eastern portion of it instead.

Chuck Flink, of Alta Planning + Design, met with many who attended public
meetings on the Wolf River Greenway trail.  Many of the maps and images
of what some areas currently look like, or will look like after the trail is
completed, were put on display.

Flink said that a bridge (going east and west) over the Wolf River would be incorporated into this new proposed route and that it would cost about $700 thousand, but that it could run even more if a more elaborate design for the bridge was desired.

Since the new route would affect existing mountain bike trails,
Flink also said that there would be a need to help resolve any potential conflicts by working with and getting input from those who ride through that area.

Hays said that there have been alternative options that have been looked at, like one that would have gone along the
MLG&W easement, but that the northern portion has a significant amount of wetland as does the area that would tie in to the Shelby Farms Greenline.

The route through the Lucius Burch area, Flink said, would also connect the Shelby Farms Greenline with the Wolf River Greenway, which has been a popular concept with many that they have heard from in the general public at large.

Flink said that it is the goal of everyone involved in the greenway project that the new trail would have a minimal impact on existing hiking and mountain bike trails in the Lucius Burch area and that every effort would be made to keep the current experience for users intact as much as possible.

The Wolf River Conservancy's CFO, Bob Wenner, (on the left), and Alta
Planning + Design's Chuck Flink, (on the right), answered questions at
one of about a dozen public meetings that have already taken place,
which offer area residents an opportunity to meet and talk with
members of the conservancy and with designers of the Wolf River
Greenway.

In order to make that happen, Flink would like his firm to work with and communicate with those who have a vested interest in preserving what they have at Lucius Burch.  Representatives from Alta Planning + Design are also willing to go out and ride through the area that will be impacted to see and discuss what could be done to resolve any potential conflicts.

“We will be doing a field session in the LBSNA area with various stakeholder groups to help resolve the conceptual alignments that we have presented in public meetings.  They were presented as conceptual so that we could engage the public and, in particular, user groups in the design process.  We will outline our reasoning for the approach we have taken, and get input on the actual field alignment that would be acceptable to the user groups,” Hays said.

“We will always have persons who are concerned about changing the existing environment, but we welcome their input and will work to resolve the best routing and opportunities for the greater community,” Hays added.

Bob Wenner agreed with Hays and echoed the Wolf River Conservancy’s interest in addressing any concerns or reservations by all those who may be impacted by the proposed rerouting of the greenway trail.

Andy Hays is the Memphis Design Associate for Alta Planning + Design and
he brings a local perspective, with a considerable amount of experience, to
the Wolf River Greenway project.

Wenner is the Wolf River Conservancy’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who has also overseen the conservancy’s land conservation projects, which has included land acquisition/disposition, and conservation easements.

“We have received a lot of input from the users of the mountain bike trails and they have suggested that we consider some alternate routing, which we intend to look at.  The exact routing is yet to be determined,” Wenner said.

As it exists today, the newly proposed route for the greenway trail would intersect with the Bandit trail in three spots and would intersect and merge with a part of the blue trail in the Lucius Burch area before connecting with the Shelby Farms Greenline trail.

The proposed material for the boardwalk portions of the greenway trail, Flink said, is a
concrete system known as PermaTrak.  The decision to go with this type of material over other options is that it has the least amount of impact on any environmentally-sensitive landscape and it helps in reducing any potential detrimental impact that other materials might have on surface level tree roots. 

In addition to this, the concrete material is also slip resistant, it is easier to keep clean, it lasts longer than wood and is not susceptible to termites, and it is durable enough to allow construction and maintenance equipment to work on others parts of the boardwalk from any existing portion of the boardwalk itself.

The bridge over the Wolf River near Humphreys Blvd., and south of Shelby
Farms Park, currently provides the only means for cyclists and pedestrians
to access both locations via the existing trail system.

“PermaTrak is a very durable, long-lasting and easy to install product.  It can be installed from the boardwalk itself so there is minimal disturbance to the surrounding environment and it will require less maintenance,” Hays said.

Even though it will be necessary to have some railings on some of the boardwalks for the greenway trail, these will be held to a minimum, according to Flink.

Whatever is installed will be the least visually intrusive as possible and the railing design will be determined by how high the trail is from the ground, Flink said.

The greenway trail, itself, will be completed in multiple stages according to Flink and, in some cases, some portions may not be immediately connected to anything else.

Alta Planning + Design will also be under an aggressive timeline in order to finish the project by 2019, Flink said, and that it will probably seem like it is controlled chaos to outsiders looking in.

“We are very excited to have most of the phases of design at or near 100 percent completion,” Hays said.

“We anticipate getting three to four phases under construction in the coming months.  Once this starts, we know the public will be very excited about this project,” he added.

For those who are interested in following the progress of the project, the Wolf River Conservancy will upload information on to the webpage and will publish a schedule for completion of each phase at: 
http://www.wolfriver.org/the-wolf-river-greenway.

Alta Planning + Design engineers are looking to install
a concrete boardwalk, known as PermaTrak, at
various locations on the expanded Wolf River
Greenway trail, which is more durable and more
slip-resistant than wooden boardwalks are.

Aside from determining the route that the trail will take through the Lucius Burch area, there are other issues that will also need to be addressed, which most notably, includes an invasion of
Chinese Privet.  This invasive species of plant dominates areas where it is not controlled and the ecological system at Lucius Burch is suffering because of it, Flink said.

The solution for remedying this problem is to
remove the privet, which includes clearing it, grounding it up, and treating it with Element 4.  After that, Flink said, the Lucius Burch area should be restored, and it can be followed up with reforestation, which should make the forested area healthier and more diverse.

The Lucius Burch area and, the rest of the Wolf River Greenway, will have signage, some of which will be informational and educational in nature with others that will indicate direction and safety-related information such as right-of-way and upcoming trail crossings. 

For those asking what they can do to help, Keith Cole said that people can show their support by
volunteering, donating, or by becoming a member of the conservancy.  They can also raise awareness, become public ambassadors, and talk with their elected officials about their support of the Wolf River Conservancy.

“The project would not be possible if not for the support of local funders, such as individuals, foundations, corporations, and the City of Memphis, itself,” Wenner said.

After the Wolf River Greenway project is completed, cyclists will be able to
travel on a trail system to and from Collierville to downtown Memphis and
across the Harahan Bridge to West Memphis, Ark.

“Donations are the life blood of any non-profit organization so we encourage monthly giving or one-time gifts, which can be made online at:
http://www.wolfriver.org/give-,” Wenner added. 

People can also help, Cole said, by attending public meetings, providing their input, and by taking the time to complete a survey.  The online public survey
for the Wolf River is:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/?sm=QqAZ7ujMJKlPKxk9PMhZNQ%3D%3D. 

“The Wolf River Greenway will be the major east-west greenway trail across Shelby County.  It will provide a safe connection from downtown, North Memphis, Raleigh, Frayser, East Memphis and connecting it with Germantown and Collierville.  I think that the ability to connect neighborhoods together around a landscape along the Wolf River will become something special for Memphis and Shelby County,” Wenner said.

There are a lot of great things to love and appreciate in Memphis and Shelby County and one day, in the not-so-distance future, that will also have to include the
Wolf River Greenway.