By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Last Thursday news was reported a $60 million resilience grant was awarded to Millington and Shelby County.
Shelby County Commissioner and Millington native Terry Roland said the grant will be used for the Big Creek Project along Highway 14, north of Highway 385 toward Highway 51.
“This is a game changer for Millington,” Roland said. “First it will keep Millington from ever flooding again and it will keep the Navy Base here.”
Roland and other Millington leaders were on the front line of the recovery effort of the 2010 May Day Floods that damaged several parts of Millington including the Base, Indian Meadows, Shelby Oaks and the Waverly neighborhood.
Millington suffered previous floods including the Christmas Day event of 1987. The Big Creek Project will transform the area into a destination similar to Shelby Farms.
The project will create lakes and wetlands, activity areas, open space for riding and more. Roland noted the design of the lakes will relieve water ways for the area preventing flooding.
The $60 million grant breaks down with $49 million designated for the Millington area. The state of Tennessee contributed $7 million and $4 million came from Shelby County.
“It has been a couple of years working on this,” Roland recalled. It has been involvement from the Federal, State and County levels. A lot of people have worked hard on making this possible.”
Some of the notable names making the grant possible are Shelby County Engineer Tom Needham, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, State Senator Mark Norris and Governor Bill Haslam.
Meeting will be scheduled in the future for the planning phase of the Big Creek Project.
“The project will have jobs attached to it,” Roland concluded. “And it will need keep up. But I remind you the biggest impact is the lack of flooding. This will be the most significant things to happen to Millington in my lifetime.”
By Sept. 1, 2019, Shelby County will create enhanced resilience within Shelby County through innovative flood mitigation designs by “making room for the river”. Utilizing these designs will enhance community connectivity, integrate the human and eco-systems through community adaptation, providing socio-economic enhancements for LMI communities and accomplishing these changes through implementation of the Mid-South Regional Greenprint.
The project includes four activities along Big Creek, Wolf River, and South Cypress Creek and a regional resilience plan to model and plan for flood impact and other climate risk across the county and tri-state region. The three place-based activities include scalable solutions to creating flood resilience, community redevelopment, and connectivity to benefit low- to moderate-income communities across Memphis and Millington.
1. Protect lives and improve quality of life
• Create wetlands and other flood storage to protect communities and create green assets
2. Reduce community burden of vacancy and vulnerable housing
Remove residents from homes at risk of continue flooding
Develop vacant lot program to reduce 47% vacancy rate in Memphis
3. Establish connectivity to opportunities and community assets
• Build on regional Greenprint with nearly 30 miles of new trails or bike paths connecting to green space, housing, and jobs
4. Implement the regional sustainability plan integrating scalable, resilient solutions
• Create innovative solutions to flood prone communities along Greenprint corridors
Opportunities for Leverage Direct support of resilience activities
Public Resources: combined commitments from the state of Tennessee, Shelby County, City of Memphis, and City of Millington estimated at $16 million support for three place-based activities
Wolf River: private and public funding estimated at $31.5 million supports the development of the Wolf River Greenway spanning across the City of Memphis
Development of Greenprint activities
• An additional $77 million in public and private funding has been leveraged for parks and greenways under development along the Greenprint network.