Update from the mayor's office

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I hope you’re safe and warm on this snowy Friday. We’re here in City Hall doing our best to treat the streets and keep city services working for you, our customers. I send a special thanks to all of our employees -- especially Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen, Public Works Director Robert Knecht, and their crews -- who have put in long hours to make sure our city works even in extreme weather.

If possible, please stay off the streets until conditions get better. With freezing or near-freezing temperatures forecast Saturday, too, be on the lookout for icy spots on streets for a couple of days.

It has been another busy week at City Hall, so let me catch you up.

Simply put, Monday was a special day. It was an amazing honor to stand at Mason Temple to speak at the Be The Dream ceremony on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. That was one of five stops I made Monday morning to commemorate the legacy of Dr. King. In addition to Mason Temple, we started bright and early with a group at Soulsville Charter School that was embarking on a day of service, visited the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition commemoration at Monumental Baptist Church, spoke to the big crowd gathered at the National Civil Rights Museum, and visited with some of our Public Works employees at FedExForum. We gave the city’s suite to them for the Martin Luther King Day game against the Pelicans, and I was happy to come by and say hello.

Mayor Strickland at FedExForum


At Mason Temple, Monumental Baptist and the National Civil Rights Museum, I spoke about the ‘Memphis 13’. Perhaps you’ve heard of them -- they were the 13 first-graders who, 55 years ago, desegregated Memphis City Schools. I’m in awe of their courage. And this struck me: Their courage demands that we must do everything we can to ensure a brighter future for today’s current first-graders. Making sure future generations have a safe and stable Memphis is what motivates me every morning when I open the door to my office.

We’ve hired an interim police director. I hope you’ll join me in welcoming and supporting Deputy Memphis Police Chief Michael Rallings, who on Thursday I named as our city’s new interim police director. He’ll take over for Director Toney Armstrong, who is retiring, on Feb. 1.

A search for a permanent police director remains ongoing. But I think you’ll be as impressed with Michael’s leadership and style as I am. He is a take-charge guy who will be an asset to help us not only keep our streets safe, but be proactive toward making sure that our police women and men remain with us.

We’re working together to find solutions at Overton Park. We know just how passionate both sides are over the parking situation at Overton Park. So we gathered leaders from both the Memphis Zoological Society and the Overton Park Conservancy in the same room Tuesday and asked them to agree to mediation to help provide solutions. I can report to you that both parties agreed Wednesday to participate, and I think it’s a great step toward a solution. We are aware of the Zoo’s legal action Thursday, but we have not yet reviewed the filing, so it would be premature to say anything more than that at this moment.

We’re also encouraging you to participate in the public input portion of OPC’s parking study, which is already underway.

Remember: If the process has not produced a result by June 30, I am committed to making a decision myself over the Greensward parking issue.

This is a big deal. You may have read about a $60 million grant the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Shelby County government Thursday. Though it is a county-coordinated grant, the work will benefit many Memphis residents in areas affected by the 2011 severe storms and floods. The grant will create or improve wetlands and other floodplain areas along portions of the Wolf River and South Cypress Creek to protect communities prone to flooding, combining these improvements with amenities at Rodney Baber Park, Kennedy Park, and Wolf River Greenway and neighborhood enhancement and blight mitigation in communities near Mitchell High School.  Employees in the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and the city engineering division worked alongside county staff for months to earn this grant. We thank them for their hard work.


Mayor Strickland Signature