Tag Archives: overton park

Awesome Project: Evergreen Rain Garden

On the corner of North Evergreen Street and Peach Avenue, amidst the beautiful homes of the Evergreen Historic District of Memphis, Tennessee, sits an empty, overgrown lot. This 10 by 20 foot vacant parcel is a battle scar left from the famous I-40 case.


For those unfamiliar with the history, the interstate was scheduled to cut through the neighborhood, taking down hundreds of homes in preparation. At the time, a group of neighbors went to the Supreme Court and became the first and only community group to block a part of an interstate’s creation. Since 1991 when the city of Memphis bought back the land from the state, houses have been built on most of the area previously designated for the interstate. But, at the corner of North Evergreen and Peach sits a reminder of this spirit of activism and sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, this reminder is subject to frequent flooding.

This is the motivation behind the Evergreen Raingarden Association. This community association of neighbors is working to transform the lot into “N.E.S.T. at Peach”, a special type of garden, known as a rain garden, that will capture storm water runoff from the area’s impervious surfaces and use it to beautify the neighborhood by cultivating a plot of diverse plants and vegetation.

There are many areas in Memphis that are prone to flooding because of the city’s heavy rainfall and proximity to tremendous water resources, like the Mississippi River. In 2010, the EPA issued a consent order to push the city to improve some of its rain water management infrastructure. But, like many urban areas, Memphis has a significant demand for urban capital expenditures and infrastructure maintenance, which makes it difficult to consider new, creative ways to improve existing water management systems. Robyn Mace, one of the project partners working on the creation of “N.E.S.T. at Peach” explained that residential rain detention and capture can make a huge difference in terms of the volume of storm water that goes into the sewer system.

“I’ve seen what design can do for the quality of a city. I want to use this as a demonstration site where we can make homeowners aware that they can do things to reduce storm water and flooding,” says Robyn. “An interesting aspect of this program is that it can start a dialogue between citizens, systems, and the city about what work can be done in different places.”

A huge part of this process is educating people about how these types of low impact development projects actually work. Rain gardens are bowl-shaped depressions that are designed to hold overflow water for twenty-four to thirty-six hours by slowing its percolation down into the soil. The rain garden’s designers place a variety of vegetative species where they will be most effective in the garden; lower, middle, and upper plants are positioned depending on their tolerance to large amounts of water. The garden at North Evergreen and Peach is unique. Its location atop an aqueduct that is part of the city’s water management system makes it the perfect site to observe the contrast between existing hard infrastructure, a concrete channeled stream, and the possibilities provided by a beautiful flower garden.
“It’s an opportunity to let people know about the city’s stormwater management system [and provide] a link between the watersheds we live in as well as the city that we live in and the infrastructure that supports our lifestyle,” says Mace.

Robyn and the other members of the Evergreen Raingarden Association are well on their way to making this type of large-scale impact possible. The community group is planning the garden’s construction through a three-phase plan for the lot, beginning with a demonstration garden as a way to begin a conversation with the city and other neighborhood associations about using low impact development techniques in other areas of flooding. The second phase will focus more on how to use these techniques in both the design process for the garden, as well as for surrounding infrastructure improvements, like sidewalk reconstruction. The final stage will be the actual construction of the garden and embellishing it with educational signage about the nearby watersheds and the storm water management processes.

Neighborhood volunteers who have been going door to door to gather support have already been recruited to help with planting and maintenance, further establishing the project as something of community wide importance. Through the creation of the garden, Robyn explains, “We can help contribute to a dialogue about managing our collective resources.” They can continue to do so with your support.

Hampline Groundbreaking

We could not have been more excited to see the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hampline in Memphis last week. Congratulations to Livable Memphis, the Broad Avenue Arts District, the Binghampton CDC, to Mayor AC Wharton and all the residents of Memphis. Today is a great day!

Photo Feb 24, 12 20 47 PM

For Immediate Release: Memphis is on the cusp of building the most innovative bicycle infrastructure in the United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Public Fundraising Campaign Launched to Complete Build of Hampline

Memphis is on the cusp of building the most innovative bicycle infrastructure in the United States. Broad Avenue Arts District and Livable Memphis launch public campaign to complete required funding.

Pat Brown
Broad Avenue Arts District

Sarah Newstok
Livable Memphis Funding Coordinator

Sara Studdard

Memphis, Tennessee (October 14, 2013). Recognizing the growing interest for bicycling in Memphis, a public fundraising campaign has been launched to close the gap in funding required to provide a safe route for bicycle riders to go between Overton Park and Shelby Farms Greenline.

Coupled with the launch of the fundraising campaign is the announcement of the permanent name for the connector – “The Hampline.” The name was chosen to honor the nickname longer-term residents of the Binghampton community use when referencing their neighborhood. The Hampline is located in the center of the Binghampton community.

Once completed, The Hampline will be the most innovative bicycle infrastructure project to occur within the United States. New York City has a few similar cycle tracks, as does Montreal and Vancouver, B.C., but The Hampline will be the gold standard for other cities to follow.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $75,000 from the public. The remaining funds required to begin the build (approximately $175,000) will be raised via private contributions and foundations.

The public campaign will utilize ioby, a crowd-resourcing platform for citizen-led neighborhood projects. ioby’s platform is similar to Kickstarter, but is specifically for grassroots-based civic projects. ioby fondly stands for “In Our Backyards.” Those interested in contributing to the campaign may visit https://ioby.org/project/hampline for more information. Any size donation is greatly appreciated. For the project to stay on schedule and the build to be completed, funding must be secured by November 23.

Since ioby focuses on community-led, neighbor-funded projects, the planning team felt it was an ideal fit to close the funding gap. The project to create a bicycle connector linking Overton Park and the Greenline was launched in 2010 during Broad Avenue’s “New Face for an Old Broad” event. The event showcased the power of grassroots efforts to revitalize a neighborhood and the positive impact reconfiguring streets to support all methods of transportation can have in improving livability and neighborhood redevelopment.

The Hampline is designed to be a cycle track designed for all levels of bicyclists. It will showcase best practices with regards to protected cycle tracks, considered best-in-class design for green lanes (protected bicycle lanes). This design provides greater safety for bike riders because it is physically separated from automobile traffic by a physical barrier. The project, which incorporates leading standards for on-road cycle track design, signalization, and storm water engineering, was designed and engineered by pioneers in the field (Fuss & O’Neill, Inc., Alta Planning and Design, and the GreenLane Project) in partnership with the City of Memphis Engineering. Livable Memphis and Broad Avenue Arts District provided project leadership.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $4.5 million, which includes construction ($2.6m), planning and design ($600k), sidewalk accessibility improvements ($500k) and art enhancements ($800k). To date, over $1.2m has been raised privately via foundations and grants to fund the initial phases of the project. The City of Memphis secured funding for the majority of the build via Congestion Mitigation Grant Air Quality funding.

In addition to showcasing engineering innovation with the street design, the Hampline will feature two miles of public art murals and sculptures, an amphitheater and numerous art galleries, this bicycle and walking track is located in the Binghampton Community (“The Hamp”) and links Overton Park and the Shelby Farms Greenline via a state of the art, two-way protected cycle track.

Additional contacts and information:

To make a contribution: https://ioby.org/project/hampline
For campaign updates: https://www.facebook.com/broadavearts or

ioby – contact Erin Barnes, Co-Founder, 917-464-4515 x2, erin@ioby.org
ioby’s mission is to deepen civic engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led, neighbor-funded projects in their neighborhoods.

Broad Avenue Arts District
The Broad Avenue Arts District is located in Memphis along historic Broad Avenue between Hollywood Street and the L&N Railroad track. Recognized as Memphis’ second arts district by the Memphis City Council in 2009, the business owners, property owners and residents have worked together to activate all public spaces and store fronts along Broad Avenue. Key partners are the Binghampton Development Corporation, Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team and Community LIFT. Their efforts have achieved great progress in revitalizing the Binghampton community. To date, more than $20 million in private reinvestment has occurred in the form of new business openings and property renovations. In addition, the District recently was awarded ArtPlace America and National Endowment of the Arts grants to support the development of creative placemaking and public art adjacent to The Hampline. www.BroadAveArts.com

Livable Memphis supports the development and redevelopment of healthy, vibrant and economically sustainable communities throughout Memphis. It is a coalition of active citizens, neighborhood organizations, educational institutions, non-profit and faith-based community groups, private and community developers, business partners, government officials, and departmental staff. Representing over 125 neighborhoods in 32 zip codes, Livable Memphis provides a grassroots voice for communities in the ongoing community conversation about development trends and challenges to neighborhood revitalization.