Taxpayers upset they couldn’t park in lot they paid for

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A city council member is demanding answers after people couldn't park in the free public lot at Tom Lee Park Saturday because of a wedding.

Viewers have also voiced their concerns to WREG too wanting to know why they couldn't park in a lot paid for by taxpayers

Monday, the Riverfront Development Corporation responded, stating from time-to-time, it blocks off parking, but admits it could have managed it better on the front end.

"It was a little bit annoying," taxpayer Daniel Gates said.

He and others visiting Tom Lee Park weren't happy Saturday. Private events forced them to find somewhere else to park.

"I wish there were other options for places for people to park when things like this arise," Gates said.

Signs blocked off the parking lots at the park, and a security guard wouldn't let anyone in.

Even the lane where disabled people are dropped off was closed so caterers could set up at Beale Street Landing.

"I think the word public would mean that it is for the public, and private would mean private. I don't think they should be able to block it off for a wedding," taxpayer Suzy Hendrix said.

No one with the RDC would go on camera, but WREG found on its website that Beale Street Landing was booked for a wedding reception Saturday.

To top it off, RDC Vice President Dorchelle Spence said there was another wedding on a riverboat, a traveling exhibit, and it was a pretty day, and "on rare occasions the number of special events impacts parking beyond the Beale Street Landing parking lot. This is rare and it is unfortunate that one of those very few occasions occurred this past weekend."

She went on to say, "We regret that our visitors who were parked in, or planned to park in, the Tom Lee Park parking lot were negatively impacted by all of this activity.   We want you to know that the RDC is working to make sure that these conflicts are better managed on the front end.  We welcome everyone to the riverfront and do our very best to accommodate them all."

"That park and that parking, it belongs to the citizens of Memphis. They should always have accessibility to it. When there is a time they don't, we have violated their rights," Memphis city councilwoman Wanda Halbert said.

Halbert said she saw concerns about the parking lot on Facebook, and passed them along to Mayor A C Wharton and the RDC, but has only heard back from the RDC.

"They actually apologized, and said, 'it was a rare occasion,' but it should never be an occasion," Halbert said.

No one with the mayor's office would talk to WREG about the parking, and referred us to the RDC.

3 comments

  • Ron

    I love this. RDC now run this losing proposition so it leases it out to private venues to try to make money and the people who actually paid to build this facility can not use it…. YOUR MEMPHIS GOV AT WORK.

  • Carey

    RDC needs to go! They have ripped off the citizens of Memphis long enough! Money we should be using on police, roads, etc.

  • John T. Dwyer

    Classic case of “the haves versus the have nots!”

    Sunset Symphony happens—Street closed.
    Memphis in May Bar-B-Que Happens—Street closed.
    Old Cotton Carnival—Streets closed.
    Music Festival—Streets closed.

    Now all of a sudden people raise hell about the streets and parking being closed during a wedding function. Get over it!

    (At least RDC made money some kind of way, and the function was by a monument with my Dad’s name on it!)

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