Weekly Update: A big win for neighborhood streets


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Another busy week at City Hall means quite a bit of useful information to share with you today. So let’s get right to it:

Investing in our streets: Coming July 1, the Tennessee Department of Transportation will resume maintenance of the 800 or so lane-miles of state highway routes in Memphis — major streets like Elvis Presley Boulevard, Poplar Avenue, and Germantown Parkway.

Here are all the details. We have been performing this work on behalf of TDOT for some time, but we were spending about $1 million from our general fund to maintain the state’s streets. We’ve decided to rededicate that money to the streets that only we can maintain — neighborhood streets like the kind in front of your house.

Along with the $19 million we’re spending on street paving next year, which is double what the City was doing just four short years ago, it’s another example of how we’re reinvesting in our core and our neighborhoods to build the Memphis we all want.

Beyond Bird: You may have seen some headlines in the past 24 hours about the Bird scooters coming to town; I’m glad that Bird has decided to do business in our city.

But the bigger story, to me, is how it came to be. Councilman Kemp Conrad should be applauded for seeing an opportunity and alerting Bird to Memphis. And, thanks to the hard work of Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen and our partners at Innovate Memphis, we were already well down the road of drafting the regulations necessary to ensure a company like Bird can co-exist with our goals of safety and a clean city.

We weren’t having to start from scratch. We were prepared and nimble when the opportunity presented itself. That’s exactly the kind of government we all want.

On the riverfront: I'm so excited about the great work being done by the Memphis River Parks Partnership, the successor to the Riverfront Development Corporation, which manages our riverfront and is working to implement our shared vision for it. You may have seen this week another exciting part of the vision: a roughly $45 million plan to improve Tom Lee Park.

Where will the $45 million come from? It'll be a combination of private money as well as funds from our state-approved tourism development zone.

As always, my commitment to you remains that we will not use general fund dollars to pay for improvements like these. By financing major enhancements like these with private dollars and TDZ dollars — which by state law can only be used for a tourism development, and only exist because of the project itself — we demonstrate our commitment to preserving our general fund for our core services.

In training: Our work to rebuild the Memphis Police Department continues, as a class of 69 officer recruits continue their training at the academy. They graduate Aug. 17. And we have added another, smaller class this summer.

The pursuit to rebuild MPD staffing means we ask a lot from the training academy staff. Thank you, team.

Second chances are important: For someone who's just left prison, a chance at a job can help determine the course of their lives.

So Thursday, I was proud to be part of a convening of local employers to help them learn more about the benefits of hiring qualified ex-offenders. We must continue to draw awareness to these benefits and work to make sure more employers help our collective goal to reduce crime and increase opportunity.

Thanks, BCBST: Reinvesting in our core and our neighborhoods means improving our parks, too.

But we can't do it alone. Major thanks to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation for the multi-million-dollar transformation of David Carnes Park in Whitehaven that broke ground Thursday night.

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