The history and difficulties of the piece of land where the Memphis-Arlington park is located has been as nuanced as the New Canada Road project. Both have taken years of design and research to make it a reality but there’s still much more work to be done.
Part of the beauty of Lakeland is also its weakness. Have you ever noticed the terrain in northern Shelby County is hillier than our southern half? Lakeland has the benefit of natural diversity and rolling topography and this piece of land that was acquired for civic use over twelve years ago is no exception. With the beauty of hills and wetlands also comes TDEC – the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Phase 1, which many of you are familiar with, has been in use, with a positive reception, for sports and LAMP events this year but phase 2 has been a roadblock due to wetlands on the property.
Barge Design Solutions was hired to identify the environmental permitting process associated with the wetlands and streams located in the north central portion of the property. Barge needed time to complete field work to verify the wetland and streams, and that work was completed on August 3, 2022. To summarize what happens next, phase two previously envisioned is being revised but not downgraded according to officials. In fact, many believe it is in keeping with Lakeland’s standard of conversation.
Commissioner Jim Atkinson has previously asked for clarification on the size of the fields that are proposed. Lakeland Parks Director, Pat O’Mara, said that although you lose size on two fields one gets bigger. He has also addressed Vice Mayor Dial’s questions about the facilities capacity for sports tournaments in the future, and Mr. O’Mara said there would ample size and capacity for tournaments. Commissioner Wesley Wright added there may still be possibilities for uses above the wetlands such as ziplines, so you don’t lose amenities because of the repositioning. When asked about the timeline, Mr. O’Mara said it might be several years before phase two is complete due to budgeting and grants.