• MRPP pushes back Tom Lee construction date, hasn't filed permits with Army Corp

    By: Winnie Wright

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Will Memphis in May be forced to find a temporary home for not one, but two years?

    Some are questioning whether Memphis River Parks Partnership will be able to stay on-schedule with the renovations to Tom Lee Park.

    FOX13 has uncovered one very large obstance standing in their way, the construction schedule has already been moved back once.

    That’s right. The original plan was to being construction in June, that date has now been pushed back to “the fall” with no start date given.

    The problem with that being- The Army Corps of Engineers has the final say on any changes made to Tom Lee Park. They say the process of approving those changes hasn’t even begun.

    We asked Jim Pogue, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers of Memphis, if they’ve gotten any official plans from MRPP regarding the future of and their hoped for Tom Lee Park.

    Pogue said, “No we haven’t. We have had some pre-conferences with them regarding permitting that may be necessary, but we haven’t actually seen any plans or anything like that yet.”


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    He also said, “Any time someone is going to either occupy or make changes to one of our civil works projects we have to make sure it’s not going to endanger human life and is not going to endanger our project.”

    Tom Lee Park was built by the Corps in the 1920s. Pogue said the park was added by the city in the 90s.

    “This project was built to protect and stabilize the bluff down there. There was a huge bluff failure in 1926, and it basically just ruined that area,” Pogue said.

    In February, MRPP revealed the proposed plans for Tom Lee Park and announced construction would begin in June.

    The new anticipated start is fall, but the Corps told FOX13 the process is quite extensive, and there are at least three different permits MRPP will have to get before construction can begin.

    “Our target is 90 days. If there’s some reason we need more information or need the applicant to expand on something, it could go longer than that.”

    MRPP’s Director of External Affairs wouldn’t go on camera, but said, “As is common in these types of projects, our design team is in regular contact with the Corps of Engineers. We will obtain all relevant permits at the appropriate point in the process.”

    Robert Griffin with Memphis in May said they’re hopeful all sides will be able to come together to develop a Tom Lee Park that works for everyone.

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