MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - On Friday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced Memphis in May would temporarily move out of Tom Lee Park in 2021 for improvements. The mayor said this would allow the city to improve the Riverfront. He added that the city is still is in mediation on the future layout of Tom Lee Park, but wanted to specify the city is committed to keeping Memphis in May in Tom Lee Park. The mediation has been between Memphis River Parks Partnership, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Memphis.
Memphis in May will still be held in Tom Lee Park in 2020, according to the release. In 2021, it will be held at an alternate site which has not yet been decided. Memphis in May will return in 2022. The Mayor’s office says it will stay there for “years to come.”
The mayor also wanted to clarify that Riverside Drive will remain a four lane street. There will be speed limiting designs in the final product, but they plan to add better access to the park. The Mayor added that the renovations to Tom Lee Park will improve the infrastructure for Memphis in May.
Mayor Strickland says no city money from the general fund or capital improvement budget will be used. He says that means there will be no impact to city service such as police and fire. The release added $10 million dollars in sales taxes in the Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) which would have gone to the state of Tennessee, will go to the park. The remaining money would come from Shelby County, the State of Tennessee and private sources.
Vice President of Marketing for Memphis in May Robert Griffin issued a statement saying:
“We appreciate the Mayor’s leadership in this process and the time his staff and Justice Holder have put into mediation. We are excited to be back in Tom Lee Park in 2020 for the 44th edition of Memphis in May, and having this assurance now allows us to finalize plans we have already been working on for next year.
As mediation continues, we look forward to reaching the goal which we have all had from the beginning: an improved park with accommodations which will allow Memphis in May to maintain its financial viability and substantial economic impact, and will enhance our beautiful riverfront for all Memphians.”
The Memphis River Parks Partnership responded with this statement:
"We appreciate the Mayor’s commitment to deliver a great riverfront for all Memphians. That’s what Memphis River Parks Partnership was created to do.
There has been so much misinformation and speculation regarding the project that we appreciate the Mayor’s leadership in clarifying the project goals and timeline.
We’ve always believed a signature Tom Lee Park can be both the centerpiece to the best waterfront in the country and a great, unique venue for festivals and events – including Memphis in May. We look forward to delivering on that commitment for the people of Memphis and Shelby County."
WMC Action News 5′s Jessica Holley is working to find out where Memphis in May will be held in 2021 and what comes next. Find out what she uncovers on WMC Action News 5 at 5 and 6 P.M.