TN Comptroller: City ordinances gave leaders authority to sell Memphis parks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis was within its rights to sell park lands to the local non-profit, Memphis Greenspace, the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office said Wednesday.

In a statement, Justin Wilson stated the city’s Code of Ordinances granted local leaders the authority to enter into the agreement and sell the land for below market values.

Furthermore, the City Council did not violate the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. The agency stated the council provided enough notice ahead of meetings along with timely access to their agendas.

However, Wilson noted the city did not follow all of the ordinances during the sale. According to the ordinances, city leaders were supposed to require Memphis Greenspace to submit an application to the City Real Estate Department to establish its “financial strength and overall stability.”

That never happened.

In response, the city said it was able to establish that during direct meetings with the non-profit. It also pointed to three other instances in the past where the city has entered into agreements without filling out the paperwork.

“The state audit reinforces what we have stated all along — the sale of the parks and statues was proper and legal,” Memphis’ chief legal officer Bruce McMullen said on Twitter.

Moving forward, the Comptroller’s Office is recommending the two parties enter a memorandum of understanding regarding the preservation and storage of the statues removed from the parks.

Other litigation is pending in Davidson County.