A public/private/non-profit group from Memphis has been selected to speak at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Kansas City on Friday, February 8. The group’s two and a half hour presentation is entitled “Getting to Complete Streets the Grassroots Way” and summarizes an ongoing collaborative effort that culminated in an executive order for a new Complete Streets policy, which was signed this week by Memphis Mayor Wharton. The development of the Complete Streets policy and subsequent presentation at the conference were the result of a collaboration led by ULI-Memphis, Livable Memphis, and the Memphis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR).
The group making the presentation includes the following individuals and organizations: Emily Trenholm, Community Development Council; Sarah Newstok, Livable Memphis; Aubrie Kobernus, MAAR; Rusty Bloodworth, Boyle Investment Company; and Lissa Thompson, Ritchie Smith Associates. The group was selected from candidates across the nation and, as a result, Memphis’ efforts are being recognized at this national platform on smart growth in Kansas City.
The development of the new Complete Streets policy, in which City of Memphis Engineer John Cameron was extensively involved, has taken a year and a half to complete. The next stage entails the creation of a design manual, which will be used in the planning process. The preparation of the design manual also will be a collaboration among city staff, design professionals, citizen representatives, and the private sector. In developing the manual, the group will consider all of the implications of possible street design, including liability concerns, health, and safety and welfare issues, as well as economic, environmental, maintenance, and aesthetic consequences.
“This Complete Streets initiative is an outgrowth of the Sustainable Shelby policy which I started when I was Mayor of Shelby County,” said Mayor AC Wharton. “I am pleased that John Cameron, City Engineer, has taken the lead in developing this policy initiative in cooperation with the public and private sectors. The Complete Streets initiative fits in with my view that enhancing our public realm is a key component of making Memphis a City of Choice.”
“The new Complete Streets policy represents a commitment by the City of Memphis to treat streets as an important part of the public realm,” said Rusty Bloodworth, Executive Vice President of Boyle. “The policy will enable the creation of city streets in the Memphis area that are inviting to a variety of users, including pedestrians and bicycles, and not just automobiles. It has been rewarding to partner with so many great public, nonprofit and private sector organizations throughout the region as we seek to provide leadership in the responsible design of our streets.”
“While Memphis is a car-centric city, we still have many residents who get around on foot, their bike, or the bus,” said Emily Trenholm, Executive Director, Community Development Council of Greater Memphis. “Our street network needs to serve them as well – especially at the neighborhood level — and a Complete Streets policy will help move us in that direction.”
“The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is a member of the National Complete Streets Coalition,” said Lissa Thompson of Ritchie Smith Associates. “Landscape architects are keenly aware of the benefits of a well-designed streetscape and recognize the public realm is where we live out much of our lives, whether in our cars or on our feet … coming and going every day. We believe that how the public realm looks, feels, and functions influences our quality of life. A more attractive and functional environment contributes to a better city image — which helps the local economy whether the goal is to recruit new business or hold the tax base.”
“MAAR and its 3200 REALTOR® members have a significant history of participating, encouraging, and providing leadership in a variety of efforts that seek to build thriving, successful communities throughout our region,” said Aubrie Kobernus, former Governmental Affairs Director of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. “MAAR is excited to be involved in the Complete Streets initiative as it works to make Memphis and Shelby County a more desirable place to live, work, and play.”
“Our grassroots Complete Streets effort is the perfect example of what can happen when citizens, non-profits and the private sector come together to ask government to take action toward a common goal: safer streets for everyone,” said Sarah Newstok with Livable Memphis. “It’s a win-win-win.”
Founded in 1936, ULI is a nonprofit research and education organization which promotes the responsible use of land. The organization has more than 40,000 members in 80 countries.