|Knoxville-Knox County Comprehensive Park, Recreation and Greenways Plan
| March 5, 2008 -
Knoxville and Knox County residents are invited to learn about – and comment on – a proposed plan for the future of parks, recreation and greenways in the city and the county during a public meeting on March 10.
The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m., Monday, in the Expo Center at 5441 Clinton Highway.
It will focus on a 72-page draft document titled, "The Knoxville, Knox County Comprehensive Park, Recreation and Greenways Plan."
The draft report was prepared by Anne Wallace, a former project manager for MPC who moved to the City earlier this year to lead its Cumberland Avenue Project.
It is available on the MPC website at www.knoxmpc.org.
The plan outlines the results of more than a year-and-a-half of study and public meetings by the City of Knoxville, Knox County and the Metropolitan Planning Commission on what citizens want in terms of public parks and recreation activities in the city and county – and how those governments can achieve those goals.
It marks the first time that Knoxville and Knox County's Parks and Recreation Departments have worked together to develop a plan to meet the needs of their citizens.
The long-range plan will be a blueprint for renovating existing parks as well as building new ones in both the city and county.
The background report includes an MPC inventory of all the current park, recreation and greenway resources in the city and county and the plan
summarizes these findings. That inventory also outlines the adequacy of different types of park and recreation facilities in different parts of the city and county.
There are more than 5,800 acres of useable park and recreation space currently in the city and county, with most of that being in the county. There are more than 50 miles of greenway, though more than 40 miles of that is within the City of Knoxville.
"We're working with Knox County and MPC because we can combine the resources we have to do the most good for the most people that way," said Joe Walsh, the City's director of parks and recreation. "We've already done some great things together, like the new Knoxville Skatepark, that benefit people across the city and county and we want to build on that cooperation.
The report is still a draft and Monday's hearing gives the public one more opportunity for input on the document.
There were a series of eight public hearings in different parts of the city and county during the fall of 2006 to help develop the plan.
"We wanted people to envision what they would like to see in the future," said Knox County Parks Director Doug Bataille. "For some people it was the Knoxville Skatepark and a series of satellite skateparks, for others it was more ball fields or greenways."
"What we are trying to do is determine what people want and how we can get there," he added.
The plan, for example, notes that the number of senior citizens in Knoxville and Knox County will increase dramatically over the next few years, something that has to be addressed in planning.
It also points out there is a lack of park and recreation space near schools in several fast-growing areas in the county.
There are also the competing pressures of diminishing land available for parks and recreation facilities and the public's desire for more parks and to preserve open space, ridgelines, stream corridors and valleys.
The draft plan calls for the eventual development of greenways with connections that would make nearly every part of Knoxville and Knox County accessible by that system.
It outlines a proposed plan to develop a series of ridge top greenbelts and outlines where new parks should be located to best meet the needs of growing areas in the city and county.
Some of those parks would be large scale, multi-sport recreation centers that could host tournaments and competitions as well as meet the everyday recreation needs of citizens.
Other recommendations include that the construction of new elementary schools be accompanied by the development of neighborhood parks within school grounds or next to those schools and the development of community parks near middle and high schools.
It also recommends the renovation of abandoned or underused former schools into recreation facilities.
The next steps in the process, after Monday's public meeting, include presenting the document for adoption by MPC. After that it will go to Knoxville's City Council and Knox County Commission for approval.
City Council will hold a workshop on the proposed plan on April 3, at 5 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building.
It will also be discussed at Knox County's annual Parks Board Luncheon at noon on April 9, in the Small Assembly Room of the City County Building.
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