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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
The first steps are being taken that should lead to big improvements ahead for Fort Dickerson Park, to the tune of at least $5 million.
The quarry at the park, located just southwest of the Henley Bridge, has been a haven for swimming and other water activities for years, but there hasn't been much effort toward making the park "park-like."
That will change as a two-step plan is carried out over the next few years.
"The quarry gets a lot of use," said Knoxville Parks and Recreation Director Joe Walsh. "It's a great place for people who want to swim or use flotation devices. It has been that way for a long time. Now we are trying to make it more like an official park with more amenities."
The improvements that come with a $5 or $6 million price tag will include a new entrance way, parking lot improvements, restrooms, a dock, a concession stand and lockers for kayaks and canoes, Walsh said.
He hopes to get bids out this summer for Phase I of the project that would include the Augusta Street entrance way and parking lot improvements.
"The entrance is kind of rough now," Walsh said. "We want to make it more park-like."
The Aslan Foundation is funding design on the project. Executive Director Andrea Bailey Cox said she expects Phase I to be completed by next summer.
"We are donating all of the design dollars and the city will fund the construction of Phase I that will complete the parking lot and entrance," she said.
"The good news is we are into a new (city) budget year and we have some money budgeted to use," Walsh said.
"Phase II is going to require some fund raising," Bailey Cox said. "We are hoping to get it constructed in the next couple years."
A team effort
It is a team effort with some help from Legacy Parks Foundation. Along those lines, the city has hired a new employee, Rebecca Jane Montgomery, specifically to coordinate the city's efforts with the foundation's Urban Wilderness effort.
Urban Wilderness has been an ongoing project to turn South Knoxville and Knox County into a destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Upgrading Fort Dickerson fits into that effort.
Walsh said the city is also looking for help from the state in funding the project, and there are efforts begun to gain other contributors.
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