Controversy over parks continues

Memphis Mayor W.W. Herenton pitched a plan to take three controversial parks out of the political arena. But some council members say his plan doesn't make sense and that may leave the whole debate back where it began.

City Council member Scott McCormick says it's early but he hasn't heard a groundswell of support for the Mayor's park plan. "The gut reaction is to not to do that."

Wednesday, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton diffused a simmering debate over renaming confederate parks by saying he wouldn't do it and encouraged the City Council to give the parks away, two to the Riverfront Development Corporation and one to the University of Tennessee. "We're conveying the land for public purposes," he said then.

McCormick says it just doesn't make sense. He says there is logic to letting the university maintain the park but giving it away is like throwing money out the window.

"I wouldn't want to give that away to somebody who could possibly take that and develop it and possibly gain the benefits of it without the city benefiting from that property," he said.

McCormick worries the Mayor's plan isn't even possible when it comes to the river front parks which - he says - belong to the Overton Heirs and are only available to the city through an easement, which disappears if it is developed for private use.

Even if it is possible - he says - why do it? "This is prime real estate. I mean riverfront property, why would we give that away," he said.

If the Council does nothing, if it does not follow the Mayor's plan the parks are left in the same position they were in months ago... with confederate namesakes... under city stewardship.

The Council is still scheduled to discuss the issue on August 16th.