August 03, 2015

Greenways Will Let Urban Land Institute Start Connecting Dots

By Tom Bailey
– Commercial Appeal –

Improving regional dialogue on important issues is the most pressing of seven new initiatives recently established by the Urban Land Institute Memphis, the new chairman says.

"Right now, regional topics don’t get the focus they deserve," said Russell ‘Rusty’ Bloodworth, who chairs the five-year-old Mid-South chapter.

The overarching goal of the institute is to promote the "responsible" use of land and to help create sustainable, thriving communities.

Bloodworth, executive vice president of Boyle Investment Co., set six other initiatives: promoting economic sustainability; visioning the future; promoting environmental sustainability; supporting great neighborhoods; supporting great government and infrastructure; and helping create great places.

The chapter was founded in 2004 and counts a membership of 140, consisting of individuals, organizations and public agencies. Its territory encompasses North Mississippi, West Tennessee and eastern Arkansas.

The institute will begin promoting regionalism in earnest with "Greenways for the Mid-South Region: Connect the Dots," a workshop in early November that will focus on the Mid-South’s rivers and greenways.

The goal is to help establish a system of connecting trails, greenways and "blueways" along such regional rivers as the Wolf, Hatchie, Coldwater, Loosahatchie, Nonconnah, St. Francis and, of course, the Mississippi.

Creating hundreds of miles of greenways will make the area a more appealing place to live and help preserve open space and habitat for animals, officials say.

And Bloodworth believes rivers and greenways offer the best chance for improving regional dialogue. Once communication has been established, the topics can shift to other, more complicated issues.

Founded in 1936, the Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit research and education organization that promotes the "responsible" use of land, and it counts more than 40,000 members in 80 counties.