MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After millions of dollars of renovations and years of work, the new Tom Lee Park is now open to visitors.
The grand opening event this weekend is full of activities.
“We’ll play pickleball, we’ll have yoga, we’ll have double dutch. We’ll have everything Memphians love going on all the time,” said Carol Coletta with Memphis River Parks Partnership.
There are new play areas, new lounge areas, and even a new basketball court. Who better to kick things off and open the new courts than Memphis Tigers basketball coach, Penny Hardaway?
“Absolutely beautiful. Our city needed this,” Hardaway said. “This is beauty at its best. Entire city is gonna enjoy it and I feel like this park is gonna stay packed.”
The park opening comes as there is a big focus on downtown safety and how to keep people from speeding along Riverside Drive and using the roadway for reckless driving.
“We’ve made 3 pedestrian crossings that really slow cars down, that are lined up with each staircase coming down the bluffs,” Coletta said. “So we believe there will be safe crossings for pedestrians.”
She says the speed bumps will also slow down traffic on Riverside Drive and the park itself also has security upgrades.
“We have phenomenal lighting at night. We have a great security system and we have overnight rangers we have never had before,” Coletta said.
Tom Lee Park is new and improved, but what about the other end at Mud Island River Park? The Mud Island River Park which was once bustling and even highlighted in movies is a shell of its former self, with few visitors and an abandoned monorail system.
“We can’t do everything at once. We are making small changes in Mud Island right now. I say small changes, they are pretty big changes,” Coletta said. “We are changing all the lighting. We have finished the elevator, escalator, walkway. We have done repainting.”
She says they have also fixed leaks on the River Walk and improvements are continuing.
“Actually there is a fantastic restaurant that’s opening in the former River Terrace called Mahogany. They’ll be opening very shortly,” Coletta said.
The kickoff event for the grand opening of Tom Lee Park starts Saturday at 1 p.m. It is free and open to everyone.
You are encouraged to park in downtown parking garages and on the street then walk to the park.