City & County Look for Help on Parks

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

City & County Look for Help on Parks

Posted: 09/20/2006
 It's mid-afternoon on a gorgeous late summer day and Betty Pedigo is making her way steadily along the paved loop at Victor Ashe Park in Northwest Knoxville.

Pedigo, a grandmother who lives near the 124-acre city park, tries to get out here and walk as often as she can.

"Sometimes I come and just sit," she said. "I bring my grandson down when I have him on the weekends and we're here almost the entire time.

"He's the kind of child, both feet are never on the ground at the same time," she adds.

She isn't alone this afternoon.

There is at least one pretty decent runner cranking out laps on the path and a handful of other walkers are also covering the loop that circles several soccer fields.

Nearby Kent Pepper is playing with Ace, his two-year-old Black Labrador, in Dogwood Park, Knoxville's first off-leash dog park while several children frolic on the playground under the watchful eye of parents.

And across the way at the park's 18-hole disc golf course Tommy Elliott and Wayne Kirkham unlimber their Frisbees for a little match on an afternoon off from work.

It is, according to Pedigo, a "wonderful" park.

But it's not perfect.

"They need some more benches to sit on," she notes, "anywhere where there is shade. And some people like to sit in the sun."

At the same time Pepper, who drives over from West Knoxville, would like, "to see more locations for animals, where you can let them off the leash," and Elliott and Kirkham wouldn't mind seeing another disc golf course or two.

Beginning this week Knoxville and Knox County residents can make their voices heard on the future shape of the city and county parks in a series of hour-long public meetings starting Thursday night, Sept. 21.

The joint effort by the city and county parks and recreation departments and the Metropolitan Planning Commission - which also includes an online survey - is aimed at developing a 10-year plan for the parks with input from as many citizens as possible.

"The city and county have a great system of parks and greenways," said Mayor Bill Haslam. "It's important that we get public input as we plan for the future and work together as a community to enhance our parks system."

The first meeting is set for Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Knoxville Expo Center at 5441 Clinton Highway.

There will be a total of eight meetings between now and November 10, held in every area of the city and county.

"We want you to tell us what you like, what you don't like" said City Parks Deputy Director Joe Walsh, who is working on the project with County Parks Director Doug Bataille.

He said that having a 10-year plan is important for the parks and, "we don't want to operate in a vacuum."

Instead, Walsh and Bataille say they want to get as many different perspectives from as many people as possible for the report, which will ultimately be prepared by the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

The future of the parks impacts almost everyone in the city and county because almost everyone uses them at some point.

Last year for example there were roughly 700 recreation league teams, ranging from t-ball teams to adult soccer, softball and baseball squads, using city parks.

There are thousands of runners, walkers and bikers who use Knoxville and Knox County greenways and parks each day; about 2,000 people took part in city tennis events last year, and thousands of others used the parks for activities ranging from gatherings in picnic shelters to playing with their dog.

The city alone offers 40 miles of greenway, 14 recreation centers and nearly 80 parks and ball field facilities.

Walsh said the city and county want to get as many perspectives as possible.

"It's a new century," he said. "We anticipate people will come out and tell us they want skate parks and dog parks," in addition to more traditional things like softball and soccer fields.

The online survey can be accessed at or through either the city or county parks and recreation department websites.

Walsh said he hopes the long-range park plan, which will be prepared by the Metropolitan Planning Commission, will be completed by early next year.

Public Meeting Dates & Locations

Sept. 21 - 5:30-6:30 - Expo Center Powell & Central
Sept. 25 - 6:30-8:30 - Chilhowee Park - Fulton & Austin East
Sept. 26 - 6:30-8:30 - Pellissippi State Community College - Karns & Farragut
Sept. 28 - 5:30-7:30 - West Knoxville Branch Library - West & Bearden
Oct. 2 - 6:30-8:30 - Brickey-McCloud Elementary - Powell & Halls
Oct. 3 - 6:30-8:30 - South Doyle High School - South Doyle
Oct. 9 - 6:30-8:30 - Christenberry Elementary - Central & Fulton
Oct. 10 - 6:30-8:30 - East Knox Elementary - Gibbs & Carter

Final Plan presentation date and location to be determined.