Long-Awaited Access Point to Shelby Farms Greenline Gets a Boost from Comissioner Heidi Shafer
October 13, 2015
Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer has awarded her entire $100,000 Community Enhancement Grant to support Shelby Farms Park Conservancy’s (SFPC) Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project.
The Community Enhancement Grant Program, launched this summer, provides each member of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners with funds to support projects that benefit Shelby County citizens within their individual districts. During the committee meeting on October 7, Commissioner Heidi Shafer’s proposal to use her entire Community Enhancement grant budget to sponsor the Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project was met with unanimous support. The October 12 vote in the Shelby County Commission meeting solidified the Commission’s support.
Commissioner Shafer explained her decision to sponsor this project, stating, "I asked for feedback from my district about what types of physical projects were the best use for these tax payer dollars. The overwhelming answer was to create this access point to the Greenline that can be used by everyone, free of charge, to improve our quality of life in District 5. I thank Laura Morris and my fellow Commissioners for moving this project forward." Commissioner Shafer also noted the free trail will bolster businesses along Summer Avenue.
Commissioner Shafer’s grant allocation will be used to connect more than 1,000 residents to the Shelby Farms Greenline via an ADA accessible trail at the Perkins Rd. intersection of the Greenline, an area where there is currently a 2.5 mile stretch of trail without any neighborhood access. Though highly trafficked, the access point currently is a dangerous one with a steep, eroding incline. The challenge of designing access adjacent to an overpass and down a steep slope makes this one of the most unique access points on the Greenline and one of the most important safety improvements undertaken along the trail to date.
“We are honored that Commissioner Shafer sponsored our proposal and that the rest of the County Commissioners joined her in recognizing the potential in this access project,” said SFPC Executive Director Laura Morris. “The Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project will safely connect Shelby County citizens to the Shelby Farms Greenline and so much more. It will link residents to healthy recreation and alternative transportation, to local businesses, greenspace and their community.”
With this grant award, SFPC has worked with volunteers from adjacent neighborhoods to raise $103,381 of the $170,000 needed to construct this access point. Donations are being accepted through an IOBY crowd sourcing campaign and on SFPC’s website at www.shelbyfarmspark.org/perkins. Ritchie Smith Associates designed the access trail and will work with SFPC to prioritize work that can begin while the remaining funds for the project are raised.
The access point will serve residents of the Avon Neighborhood who are immediately connected to the trail and will also open up Memphis’ cycling infrastructure to those north of Summer Avenue once the bike lane on Perkins Road is paved next year. The trail will be a historic improvement project as it is one of the first Mid-South Regional Greenprint projects to move from planning into construction.
When the Greenline was opened in 2010, area neighbors saw a need for a convenient, safe connection to the trail. Community members from the Avon neighborhood raised funds to commission preliminary plans for what access could look like near Perkins Road. The project stalled until SFPC received a Mid-South Regional Greenprint subplanning grant in 2013 to take the designs further with Ritchie Smith Associates. A development committee was formed at a public meeting held to review the Perkins to Greenline access designs in October 2014 and now, just a year later, the project seems within reach.
ABOUT SHELBY FARMS PARK CONSERVANCY (SFPC): Shelby Farms Park Conservancy is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that is working to help Shelby Farms Park reach its potential as a celebrated urban park that defines and shapes a great city. SFPC manages and operates the 4,500 acres of Shelby Farms Park and 6.5 miles of Shelby Farms Greenline. Each year, SFPC privately raises more than $2 million (more than 75 percent of its operating budget) to keep the Park and Greenline clean, green and safe. Become a Park Member, volunteer and learn more at www.shelbyfarmspark.org.