September 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.
|The City and County
Parks and Recreation Departments are conducting public hearings
to help the Metropolitan Planning Commission develop a 10-year
plan for the parks. As part of that effort eight meetings will
be held in different parts of the city and county with the aim
of getting as much public input as possible. Anyone can attend
any of the meetings but each will focus on the specific community
where the event is being held in addition to considering the
|Sept. 21 from
5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Knoxville Expo Center on Clinton Highway.
|Sept. 25 from
6:30-8:30 p.m. at Chilhowee Park.
|Sept. 26 from
6:30-8:30 p.m. at Pellissippi State Technical Community College
|Sept. 28 from
5:30-7:30 p.m. at the West Knoxville Branch Public Library
|Oct. 2 from 6:30-8:30
p.m. at Brickey-McCloud Elementary School
|Oct. 3 from 6:30-8:30
p.m. at South Doyle High School
|Oct. 9 from 6:30-8:30
at Christenberry Elementary School
|Oct. 10 from
6:30-8:30 p.m. at East Knox Elementary School
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,
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
"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 www.knoxmpc.org
or through either the city or county parks and recreation department
Walsh said he hopes the long-range park plan, which will be prepared
by the Metropolitan Planning Commission, will be completed by early
Public Meeting Dates & Locations
Fulton & Austin East
State Community College
Knoxville Branch Library
Doyle High School
Final Plan presentation date and location to be determined.