More than 1,000 Memphians sign petition to suspend construction at Tom Lee Park

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As construction at Tom Lee Park is pushed this fall, hundreds are voicing their concerns about those proposed changes.

Memphians signed a petition urging city officials to stop any construction until officials with Memphis in May and the Memphis River Parks Partnership reach a joint agreement.

Organizers said they want to meet with Mayor Jim Strickland about the petition, but first they need to get 1,500 signatures. And in less than two days, they’ve gotten nearly 1,200.

The saying a picture is worth a thousand words is one of the main reasons why Jerred Price said this petition is getting so much traction.

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Price, a Memphis city council hopeful, said when you look at the proposed $70 million remodeling for Tom Lee Park and compare it to the thousands who come for Memphis in May every year, he said the picture doesn’t add up.

“You know we’re a group that’s not opposed to an updated, nicer Tom Lee Park, but we are wanting the park to be able to coexist efficiently, safely and be able to promote growth for the festivals because these past two years it’s actually been bigger than ever,” said Price, member of the Save Tom Lee Park and the Festivals Facebook group.

The petition urges Strickland and City Council to push pause on any potential changes to the park while mediations between Memphis in May and the Memphis River Park Partnership continue.

“If you’re hearing concerns, or Memphians tell you here are concerns, then you need to stop and listen,” said Price.

FOX13 reached out Strickland Wednesday afternoon for an interview about the petition. His office sent the following statement:

"I've said all along that from a City perspective, we want a park that fits the needs of Memphis in May while at the same time will be productively used the other 11 months of the year," Strickland said. "I have asked Justice Holder to include time in the process to insure any design agreement is consistent with the Army Corps of Engineers' process and standards."

A representative with MRPP said Tom Lee Park will remain closed until Memphis in May is over.

Additionally, the group said the scheduled Tom Lee Park construction for this fall will align with plans to fix the cobblestone landing.

Memphis city council chairman Kemp Conrad sent FOX13 the following statement about the petition:

"I dream of a park that's not just designed for use 8 days a year, but 365 days a year. Memphians deserve nothing less and if we collaborate and work together, we can have a magnet park at the state's front door that doubles the current economic impact of the current festival in the current park setting."

For a link to the petition, click here.