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Greenspace group announces plans for former Forrest, Confederate parks

A wreath sits at the gravesite of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park. The bronze statue of Forrest that stood there was removed in December.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Greenspace, the nonprofit group that now owns two controversial city parks, announced plans for improvements at the sites Thursday.

The group says it plans to clean up walkways, add seats and trashcans, and add signs and security at Health Sciences Park and Memphis Park, formerly known as Forrest Park and Confederate Park.

There will also be a “spring activation strategy” by the Downtown Memphis Commission that will include a music series, yoga and Tai-Chi beginning in March. Partner organization Memphis Medical District Collaborative also plans artistically designed crosswalks on Manassas,

“For a majority of our population, these parks were not inviting, and we want them to be for our entire community,” said Van Turner, President of Memphis Greenspace, Inc. “We’ve taken a significant and critical first step by removing Confederate statues, and now we are moving forward with our intention to reinvent the park as a valuable asset for communities and the City as a whole.”

In December, the city of Memphis moved ahead with plans to remove memorials to the Confederacy in the parks by transferring ownership of the public land to the nonprofit. That circumvented a state law that had prevented the removal of the Nathan Bedford Forrest and Jefferson Davis statues.

Kyle Veazey, a spokesman for Mayor Jim Strickland, said the ownership by a private group will result in more attention and activation for the parks, compared to being a part of the “resource-constrained” city parks system.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans and descendants of Forrest are seeking legal action against the city for removing the statues, which they claim was in violation of state law.

The community is invited to share suggestions and feedback for Memphis Park and Health Sciences Park via the comment page of Memphis Greenspace’s website.