Urban Wilderness Gateway Park Groundbreaking Set for Sept. 11, 2019

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Urban Wilderness Gateway Park Groundbreaking Set for Sept. 11, 2019

Posted: 09/05/2019
The City of Knoxville will host a groundbreaking for its planned $10 million Urban Wilderness Gateway Park on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 at 4 p.m. at Baker Creek Preserve, 3700 Lancaster Drive.

Years in the planning, the new Gateway Park will serve as a grand “front porch” entrance to the Urban Wilderness at the southern end of James White Parkway. 

The Gateway Park will introduce visitors to Knoxville’s 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness recreation area, offering self-guided information and mapping that will give people all kinds of outdoor options, depending on which adventure they choose.  

The new park is also envisioned to be a catalyst for continuing to revitalize the South Waterfront and as a connection between East and South Knoxville and downtown through greenways and parkland.

Specific plans for the park followed community input in 2018 at several public meetings and a survey that sought input for the vision of the Gateway Park. Nearly 1,000 people provided comments, ideas and priorities for the project.

Additionally, the City hosted a public input exhibition and block party in June 2018 at the southern end of the James White Parkway. Community neighbors and Urban Wilderness enthusiasts gathered and shared their ideas for a new park and participated in interactive displays.

“The new park amenities will complement the existing features of the Urban Wilderness, transforming the end of James White Parkway into a jumping off point for the Urban Wilderness,” said Rebekah Jane Montgomery, Knoxville Urban Wilderness Coordinator. 

“The project will also add parking, pedestrian and bike pathways and trails, a bike park, restrooms, shade structures and additional children’s nature play areas. We’ll also be improving accessibility, connectivity and safety to existing neighborhoods, businesses and schools.” 

The Urban Wilderness Gateway Park construction is one of the City’s largest outdoor recreation projects and will be completed in two phases. Contractor for Phase 1 of the project is Charles Blalock & Sons Inc.; Phase 1 includes infrastructure and the Baker Creek Preserve Bike Park. 

This first phase focuses on portions of Baker Creek Preserve and the recently transferred Tennessee Department of Transportation right-of-way land that connects with James White Parkway. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in 2020. 

Phase 2 to complete the park will follow and will include layering in the landscaping, play features, shade structures and connector trails as well as a separated greenway on Cottrell Street.

Already a national destination, Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness is an outdoor adventure area for hiking, biking, climbing and paddling – all near the heart of downtown. The Urban Wilderness includes 11 trailhead destinations and 50 miles of biking and walking trails and greenways. 

The adventure area links the community to Ijams Nature Center, pristine lakes, historic sites, quarries, playgrounds, five city parks and a 500-acre wildlife area. 

The new Gateway Park will also be a gathering pace and access point near the South Waterfront neighborhoods with its open spaces, riverwalks and upgraded streets. The end result? Organically uniting the urban and the wild.

Learn more about the Urban Wilderness Gateway Park at www.knoxvilletn.gov/uwgatewaypark