Memphis, Tennessee Mid-South Regional GreenPrint

In 2015, the Mid-South Regional Commission created the Mid-South Regional GreenPrint as a visioning document for the tri-state area of the greater Memphis region for the next 25 years. The plan envisions a regional network of green space, including connected parks and greenways, or Greenprint. The intention of the Greenprint plan is to address long-term housing and land use, resource conservation, environmental protection, accessibility, community health and wellness, transportation alternatives, economic development, neighborhood engagement, and social equity in the Greater Memphis Area.

The Greenprint study area includes the Memphis and West Memphis Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), covering four counties and 18 municipalities located in the states of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi. The plan, once completely implemented, will connect 95% of existing parks and will create 500 miles of off-street greenway trails and create 200 miles of on-street bike lanes.

The Greenprint plan focuses on equity throughout the document, and incorporates equity into the objectives in every part of the plan. Some of the relevant objectives in each section include:  

  • An interconnected network of parks, greenways and open spaces - improve access and use of existing parks, which will involve an inventory of access points to ensure more equitable distribution. 
  • Equitable participation and community ownership - build a culture of effective citizen planning by increasing capacity of groups and leaders, especially in underserved communities, which will involve forming a regional equity council to assess outreach and involve stakeholders in implementation.
  • Sustainable resources and quality environment - create productive green assets from underutilized lands and brownfields, which will involve changing acquisition processes. 
  • Productive workforce and economy - expand green technology workforce development and support and invest in green energy and jobs. 

  • Healthy and safe communities - improve access to healthy food, which will involve developing a regional food system assessment to address issues of access, economics, and food sustainability
  • Improve neighborhoods and fair housing choices - increase affordable and fair housing choices, which will involve amending existing programs to encourage the development of more affordable housing near green space
  • Effective long-term regional planning - continue regional collaborations, which will involve community-based visioning and continued outreach. 
  • Enhanced access through transportation choices - increase bikeways, transit, and other transportation options within low-income and minority neighborhoods.

Greenprint was created to effectively combine multiple sources of federal, state, and local funding - including transportation funding for recreational trails - to implement a regional plan for trails and open space to mitigate flooding and promote community growth. The plan includes a comprehensive description of how multiple sources of funding, from federal funds to state wildlife and conservation funding, could be combined to pay for this network.

A set of eight “Strategic Directions” were developed for the Greenprint plan. Each of the strategies are well developed in the report, along with related objectives, and numerous recommended actions for each objective. In addition, the plan includes 31 short-term actionable targets that represent achievements expected after the first five years of plan implementation.

The eight Strategic Directions for Greenprint are: 

  1. An interconnected network of parks, greenways and open spaces
  2. Equitable participation and community ownership
  3. Enhanced access through transportation choices
  4. Healthy and safe communities
  5. Improved neighborhoods and fair housing choices
  6. Sustainable resources and quality environment
  7. Productive work force and economy
  8. Effective long-term regional planning

A core element of Greenprint is the “Concept Map” for the regional network of green infrastructure, parks and trails to be developed by 2040. The Map (available online) provides a long-term vision of priority investments in green infrastructure through the mapped layers of open space, employment density, social equity, population density, transportation, and the proposed greenprint network.

In 2011, the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability received the HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant in the amount of $2.6 million to plan a regional Greenprint. The Office of Sustainability worked with a consortium of over 80 organizations representing over 300 individuals from the tri-state region on the plan since 2012, was completed in November of 2014, and published in 2015.


Publication Date: February 5, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Mid-South Regional Commission

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  • Plans (other)

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