Help Make Improvements to Mary James Park

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Help Make Improvements to Mary James Park

Posted: 12/15/2006
Volunteers with the South Haven Neighborhood Association will be working in a streambed Friday and Saturday to create a "rain garden" aimed at improving Mary James Park in partnership with the Tennessee Izaak Walton League and the Fort Loudon Lake Association.

The three-acre city park is located at 1825 McClung Avenue in the heart of a South Knoxville neighborhood.The stream that runs through the park - a tributary of Baker Creek that empties into Fort Loudon Lake - has been included on the state's list of impaired streams.

The collaboration of neighborhood volunteers and non-profit organizations devoted to improving water quality are working Friday from 12:30- 2 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon to help clean it up.Volunteers are welcome.It's part of an ongoing effort on several different fronts to improve the park."The park is in the center of our neighborhood and we've been working with the city and others to improve it over the last couple of years," said Linda Rust, president of the South Haven Neighborhood Association. "We want it to be better utilized by everyone in the neighborhood.""It's like a little gem in our neighborhood," she said, "and it just needs to be shined up."

As part of this project boulders were previously placed in the streambed to slow the speed of storm water and the volunteers will be planting various native species of plants along the banks to create a "rain garden" so the stream's banks can better absorb the water.The combination of the boulders and the new vegetation should help pool the water and slow it down as it travels through the park. These steps may help reduce stream bank erosion and the amount of sediment reaching the lake. The overall stormwater quality should be improved.The project was designed and is being managed by the Fort Loudoun Lake Association.

Funding for the work is being provided by a Baker Creek Restoration Grant, which the Izaak Walton League and the Fort Loudon Lake Association received from the state of Tennessee and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The City of Knoxville is also helping finance the effort through a "challenge grant" to the South Haven Neighborhood Association.The Mary James Park, a finalist for this year's "Orchid Award" from Keep Knoxville Beautiful, has seen a number of improvements this year.The City of Knoxville, using almost $50,000 in Community Block Grant Development funds, purchased and installed new playground equipment in the park. It celebrated those improvements in an August ribbon cutting.The South Knoxville Beautification Group also assisted with a creek cleanup in July and the South Haven group is working to get a greenway extension through the park.Rust said the South Haven Neighborhood Association is grateful to the city for its continued commitment to improving the park.

Joe Walsh, deputy director of Knoxville's Parks and Recreation Department, said that the city has enjoyed working with the association and the partnership has made for an improved park."They've been very active and very involved," he said. "They are a great resource and the end result is that the Mary James Park is better than it ever has been. We appreciate their willingness to work with us."