Email causes controversy at fairgrounds project groundbreaking - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Email causes controversy at fairgrounds project groundbreaking

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A fight over the fairgrounds between Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery and Memphis City Council member Wanda Halbert spilled over during a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.

Memphis City Council member Shea Flinn said the $175 million dollar project will revitalize the Fairgrounds and surrounding area.

"It's a great day as we start to see some forward momentum," Flinn said.

Wednesday's groundbreaking marks phase one of a four phase master plan.  Several buildings formerly used by the Mid-South Fair will be demolished to create more green space for a new urban park and tailgating next to the Liberty Bowl.   

"Getting rid of these buildings that no one was going to use and replacing asphalt with grass. I think this is positive no matter which way we decide to go," Flinn said.

But it's a plan that's not sitting well with City Council member Wanda Halbert.   Wednesday, Halbert sent an email to members of the Council addressing her concerns with the plan, stating, "...it appears a ground-breaking ceremony may be established for a project that does not exist because it has not been approved by council."

"This is a last ditch effort from a minor candidate in the mayoral campaign to get publicity," said Lowery, who is a candidate for mayor himself.

"In August we approved the money to clean up the space and this is essentially that clean up," Flinn added. "When we had the discussion in executive session last council meeting, it was clear this is something that has to be done."

Lowery said he could provide dates related to the project.

"I will show you the date the Council approved the demolition funds," he said. "She's just trying to get publicity with this and other things she's doing, filing an ethics complaint against the Deputy City Attorney.  She's doing everything she can to get publicity. It's going to fail."

Demolition for the project begins on January 3, 2010, with phase one expected to be completed by April.

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