At a press conference Wednesday, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton offered his own solution to the growing city parks controversy. He proposed giving Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis park to the Riverfront Development Corporation, and giving Forrest Park to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Some Memphis residents would like to see the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis move from the parks they sit in, and for the parks to be given non-confederate names. Herenton said he has the power to make those decisions.
"The buck stops here and the Mayor has made some decisions," Herenton said
Some listeners of the mayors remarks thought he took the easy way out. Tim Williams of Citizens to Save our Parks said the mayor was doing just that.
"He ducked the issue completely," Williams said.
Williams said the University of Tennessee has wanted the land for a long time. "It was a land grab," he said. "U-T wanted the property. He gives it to them, and he doesn't have to deal with anything."
John Ellis, a great-great-nephew of Nathan Bedford Forrest, said the family would finally know who to talk to if the mayor's plan was implemented.
"I'd like to see it remain as Forrest Park as a public venue," Ellis said.
The ultimate decision on whether the parks will be given away is up to the city council. Council Chairman Edmund Ford said he's not opposed to giving the land away. Ford said people need to move past the racially divisive issue, pointing out he is named after two white men.
"Black folk, white folk, need to get over it,"
The mayor asked the city council to not take up the issue of renaming the parks.