Proponents of Audubon Park are vocal about the city’s renewal plans

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A multi-million dollar plan to revamp Audubon Park in Memphis is facing strong backlash from neighbors.

The city has lofty goals for a long-overlooked park in downtown East Memphis. But members of a group calling themselves Save Audubon Park have come to town with what they say is a plan that stinks.

Memphians are passionate about and protective of their parks, and while everyone agrees the Audubon Golf Course needs repairs, they are not in favor of taking over parkland to make the golf course bigger.

The standing-room-only meeting Wednesday evening at the Memphis Botanical Garden began with remarks from city of Memphis officials.

“It’s very, very, very, very important to us at Memphis Parks to hear from you and get your feedback,” Adrianne Moore told the crowd. “And I also believe in transparency. We dropped the ball. We did. We dropped the ball.”

The city is planning an $8 million renovation of Audubon Park that will include expanding the golf course and adding a driving range. Park patrons worry the $40 million Leftwich Tennis Center, already under construction in one corner of the park, won’t leave much room for enjoyment.

“It’s like the Norman Rockwell of parks,” said one neighbor, “You’ve got little Hispanic kids and little Asian kids and little black kids and little white kids and they’re always playing on that field. You’re taking away the field they’re playing on.”

Another neighbor told city leaders, “I’m a big golf fan, but I still don’t understand why you can’t make do with what you have?”

“We are the people who love and use Audubon Park,” said Angela Link with Saving Audubon Park, “and we are dedicated to preserving this green space for our children, for our grandchildren, and for all the great-grandchildren of all Memphians. This is the last natural space with a lake. is in East Memphis. And where does the Pink Palace Craft Fair go?” hold the college. .

Emotions ran high at times as he spoke to the group, even asking Memphis City Councilman Chase Carlisle to calm the crowd down. Carlisle, along with council members Ford Canale and Frank Colvetti Jr., attended and listened to the concerns expressed.

“The moment this idea came up,” said one homeowner, “there should have been public meetings in all the neighborhoods and everyone affected.”

“It’s the only golf course that has zero capital,” said Councilman Canale, “and it’s definitely going to be a walkable park for everybody. And I think everybody’s going to like the aesthetics and they’re going to be happy about it.” will be.”

Parks Director Walker said the final decision on Audubon Park’s plan rests largely with him, and there is plenty of time left to work on any changes. Construction on the Audubon park will begin in November, Walker said.

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