October 12, 2010 -
Owners and employees of the Knoxville-based healthcare real estate company Realty Trust Group will begin rebuilding the playground at Lonsdale Park this Friday.
Realty Trust Group has also paid the $23,000 replacement cost for the equipment damaged in the fire.
The playground was damaged in a deliberately-set blaze on July 4.
"We're very grateful to the folks at Realty Trust for giving their time and money to do something that will make a big difference to children who live in Lonsdale," said Joe Walsh, director of the City of Knoxville's Parks and Recreation Department. "It's a great example of a company partnering with the city to do something that improves a community and people's lives."
Greg Gheen, President of Reality Trust Group, contacted the city shortly after the fire and expressed an interest in the company and its employees doing a project to restore the playground. Walsh subsequently met with Gheen at the park with a breakdown of the repair, replacement and installation costs.
"He said 'We'd like to take it on,' " Walsh said.
"Our company believes in service and community and this project allows us to accomplish both," Gheen said.
Jim Howlett, of Howlett Equipment Company, will provide technical guidance on the project. The playground equipment is from his company.
The city completed a major renovation of Lonsdale Park – including the playground – in 2007 as part of the efforts to revitalize the community.
That renovation, which involved the city's engineering and public service departments, included construction or renovation of two playgrounds, development of a paved loop trail, construction of a large pavilion and the relocation of a street so children at the neighboring Lonsdale Elementary would have a safe route to reach the park.
The playground project is expected to be completed in two to three days.