MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The organization that manages the city’s riverfront parks want to borrow $3 million set aside for Mud Island River Park for the redevelopment of Tom Lee Park, months after that park reopened following a $61 million public-private project.
Representatives with Memphis River Parks Partnership said they were awarded the money in a federal earmark for the park construction last year but weren’t able to use it because Congress didn’t approve its budget until the Tom Lee project already was under contract.
They asked council to reallocate city money that had been set aside for Mud Island to fill the gap in the Tom Lee Park construction budget.
“So, I thought we paid for this park already. We still have debt on the park?” Councilman Jeff Warren asked MRPP head Carol Coletta.
Coletta said the debt on the park redevelopment was $3 million, which was borrowed during construction and must be repaid.
The request didn’t sit well with Councilman Martavious Jones, who said he fought for millions to be used for Mud Island renovations.
“You all want to use the money that I fought for, $5 million for Mud Island, and because you’re short with Tom Lee Park, that’s what you want to use the money for?” Jones asked.
“Yes” was the response from Tyre Daniels with MRPP. “There is not a short-term, or a long-term plan for Mud Island, and we’re working on it.”
Jones said his understanding was that there had been a plan for Mud Island for the eight years he’d been on the council.
“I’m not going to be in support of this. In fact, I’m going to try to get the votes for us to use this for something else, because it’s not being used for its intended purpose,” Jones said.
MRPP, a private organization, manages the city-owned properties in Tom Lee Park and Mud Island River Park. Mud Island has declined in recent years, with its monorail, museum and amphitheater closed.