Perkins Greenline access closer to reality

The long awaited Perkins access to the Greenline received a $100,000 boost this week, placing the project much closer to the required $170,000 needed to finance construction.

Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer has awarded her entire $100,000 Community Enhancement Grant to support Shelby Farms Park Conservancy’s (SFPC) Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project.

With this grant award, SFPC has worked with volunteers from adjacent neighborhoods to raise $103,381 of the $170,000 needed to construct this access point. They are currently accepting donations to fully fund the project through IOBY. Ritchie Smith Associates designed the access trail and will work with SFPC to prioritize work that can begin while the remaining funds for the project are raised.

The Community Enhancement Grant Program, launched this summer, provides each member of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners with funds to support projects that benefit Shelby County citizens within their individual districts.  During the committee meeting on October 7, Commissioner Heidi Shafer’s proposal to use her entire Community Enhancement grant budget to sponsor the Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project was met with unanimous support. The October 12 vote in the Shelby County Commission meeting solidified the Commission’s support.

Commissioner Shafer explained her decision to sponsor this project, stating, "I asked for feedback from my district about what types of physical projects were the best use for these tax payer dollars.  The overwhelming answer was to create this access point to the Greenline that can be used by everyone, free of charge, to improve our quality of life in District 5." Commissioner Shafer also noted the free trail will bolster businesses along Summer Avenue.

Commissioner Shafer’s grant allocation will be used to connect more than 1,000 residents to the Shelby Farms Greenline via an ADA accessible trail at the Perkins Rd. intersection of the Greenline, an area where there is currently a 2.5 mile stretch of trail without any neighborhood access. Though highly trafficked, the access point currently is a dangerous one with a steep, eroding incline. The challenge of designing access adjacent to an overpass and down a steep slope makes this one of the most unique access points on the Greenline and one of the most important safety improvements undertaken along the trail to date.
“We are honored that Commissioner Shafer sponsored our proposal and that the rest of the County Commissioners joined her in recognizing the potential in this access project,” said SFPC Executive Director Laura Morris.  “The Perkins to Greenline neighborhood access project will safely connect Shelby County citizens to the Shelby Farms Greenline and so much more. It will link residents to healthy recreation and alternative transportation, to local businesses, greenspace and their community.”

The access point will serve residents of the Avon Neighborhood who are immediately connected to the trail and will also open up Memphis’ cycling infrastructure to those north of Summer Avenue once the bike lane on Perkins Road is paved next year. The trail will be a historic improvement project as it is one of the first Mid-South Regional Greenprint projects to move from planning into construction.
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