The City of Marion, Arkansas, has joined Shelby County and more than 20 other jurisdictions to adopt the Mid-South Regional Greenprint. The 25-year plan aims to develop a connected network of greenway trails, parks and bicycle lanes across the tri-state region.
All 22 jurisdictions have endorsed the Greenprint as the shared vision or the green space in an unprecedented demonstration of regional unity. Written into the resolutions, most jurisdictions have agreed to consider the plan’s recommended actions and to work with adjacent communities to ensure bicycle and pedestrian connectivity across their boundaries.
“The Greenprint Plan provides each of our jurisdictions a common vision for an improved quality of life and promotes actionable targets as a means to achieve it,” says Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. “Regional leadership has taken a strong first step towards implementation of the plan through their adoptions. We should promote the adopted vision by encouraging prioritization of Greenprint objectives and investment in our green space network. Residents of Shelby County want to live in vibrant and prosperous communities and our Greenprint is the plan that can make this a reality.”
The Greenprint was published at the start of 2015, the result of three years’ work from 82 partner organizations that sourced input from more than 4,000 members of the regional community. The effort was funded with a $2.6 million Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Earlier this year, Shelby County was awarded a second grant from HUD in the amount of $60.4 million through the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC), funding three projects that will better protect communities from the negative effects of future floods. Greenprint served as the foundation for the County’s application.
“Just a year after its publication, the Greenprint has already proven its ability to dramatically impact our region for the better, by helping us attract resources needed to protect our citizens from future disasters, while providing the guidance to help us conserve important natural areas and improve public spaces,” remarks John Zeanah, Deputy Director of Planning in Memphis-Shelby County Division of Planning and Development. “Because the Greenprint is so comprehensive, all 22 jurisdictions will be able to use the plan to advance our region on a variety of fronts – everything from transportation to community development.”
Greenprint implementation is not the sole responsibility of local governments. In fact, many organizations, businesses, and community groups have endorsed the plan and have been working together to pursue its various targets. In many cases, local conservancies and community development councils have worked with local governments to prioritize high-quality bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, resulting in approximately 25% of the proposed Greenprint Network being complete or funded. Finished connections include popular corridors such as the Shelby Farms Greenline and the Mississippi Riverfront. Recent additions to the network include the Greenline extension into Cordova and Germantown’s Wolf River Greenway extension to Cameron-Brown Park. Additional connections set to open in the near future include Big River Crossing, the Hampline, the Chelsea Avenue Greenline, and the Wolf River Greenway, among others.
The Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability also recently started a Greenprint Certification program to give more organizations and community groups an opportunity to take part in Greenprint implementation.
“If an organization or agency has a project that clearly addresses any one of the Greenprint’s recommended actions, that entity can submit that project to be Greenprint certified. The application program is rolling, so we will review project submissions throughout the year,” says John Michels, Greenprint Coordinator. “We will continue to celebrate these and other achievements at our biannual Greenprint Summits. Stay tuned for details about our next Summit, which is likely to take place at the end of November.
For the complete list of Greenprint-supporting jurisdictions and organizations, please visit https://midsouthgreenprint.org/progress/supporters/.