MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mud Island River Park will get $4 million in improvements recently approved by the city council.

But some are asking the question, is that enough?

“It’s just disheartening to see the condition and that the priorities were not there to fix what was broken,” said Jerred Price, the President Emeritus of the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

His photos show a deteriorating park now showing its age and in desperate need of repair.

“Well, the conditions are saddening as the photos tell the story. It’s just been years and years of deferred maintenance,” Price said. “I just wish we would have prioritized the $60 million that’s been spent on Tom Lee Park. I wish we would have seeked to have fixed what was broken first.”

The Memphis River Parks Partnership is charged by the City of Memphis to maintain the river parks, including Mud Island.

“Mud Island was built some 40 years ago and although it may not have lived up to its billing back then, it’s still a great asset,” said Councilman Martavius Jones

In a statement sent to WREG, MRPP said, “When Mud Island officially opens for the season in May, all of the limbs from recent storms will be cleared, and the Riverwalk will be clean, full of water and fully functional.”

They estimate the island requires approximately $20 million dollars of deferred maintenance, not including the amphitheater and the monorail. The lack of investment in Mud Island has stretched over multiple administrations.

The statement goes on to say “The good news is Accelerate Memphis, an initiative of Mayor Strickland and our City Council, includes $4 million dollars to spend on basic deferred maintenance that will serve all uses and users of the island.”

“It is a drop in the bucket to what we have, but I hope there’s going to be the will to make needed and adequate investments that’s over there,” Jones said.

MRPP says it’s in talks with three new tenants for attractions to open over the coming year.

“If we want to make Memphis a destination place, there are more amenities we need to provide and Mud Island being that venue,” Jones said.

You can read the Memphis River Parks Partnership’s full statement below:

“Memphis River Parks Partnership is charged by the City of Memphis to maintain the river parks, including Mud Island. Our rangers and staff monitor and maintain all riverfront parks to ensure they are clean, walkable and bikeable. 

Many people are on the island each good weather weekend, visiting the Memphis sign, getting close to the river, launching boats, even fishing off the island’s south end. And when Mud Island officially opens for the season in May, all of the limbs from recent storms will be cleared, and the Riverwalk will be clean, full of water and fully functional. 

Mud Island opened 40 years ago. It is challenging in that it is a tightly integrated design, but its very integration makes it confounding. Every single part of Mud Island affects every other part of Mud Island. We estimate the island requires approximately $20 million of deferred maintenance, not including the amphitheater and the monorail.

The lack of investment in Mud Island has stretched over multiple administrations. The good news is Accelerate Memphis, an initiative of Mayor Strickland and our City Council, includes $4M to spend on basic deferred maintenance that will serve all uses and users of the island. This work gets underway this summer. In addition, we are remaking the north entrance to the island and relighting the walk bridge, thanks to City capital improvement dollars.

The even better news is that we are in various stages of negotiations with three new tenants on the island for attractions to open over the coming year. In the meantime, events are still being held on the island. We hope Memphians will come out and enjoy our first Sunset Kayak of the season the last Thursday of this month, April 28th, in which free kayaks will launch from Mud Island boat ramp.

The community will begin to see big changes in our riverfront over the next 12 months. The improvements on Mud Island are just a start, but an important start, to chip away at the deferred maintenance accumulated over the past 40 years.”

Memphis River Parks Partnership