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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)


Collegedale is establishing a foundation that will allow its fledgling Parks and Recreation Department to further grow and expand its offerings.

Since taking shape in November, the department has introduced a handful of new recreational programs for seniors and children alike, but forming a foundation will give the body access to a larger pool of grant money, said Traci Bennett-Hobek, director of the department.

She compared the proposed organization to the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation, which raised more than $4 million to build The Commons and is still raising funds for future phases of the multi-use town square.

"That's all foundation money," Bennett-Hobek said.

She also drew comparisons to the Athens Parks Foundation in Athens, Tenn., which recently contributed about 15 percent of the funds needed to add a splash pad to its regional park, according to local news reports by The Daily Post-Athenian.

Another benefit of creating a foundation, Bennett-Hobek added, is that it will be able to own land, should anyone choose to donate property.

Collegedale's Parks and Recreation Foundation has already received recognition from the state, and city commissioners were expected to approve its board of directors during a meeting July 2.

Members of the proposed board are Tim Morgan, president of the Chattanooga Sports Committee; Leanne Barto, a seventh-grade teacher at Collegedale Adventist Middle School; Larry Zehnder, retired administrator of Chattanooga's Parks and Recreation Department; Janae Pellington, a registered nurse working with Regional Obstetrical Consultants; and Tim Anderson, project management specialist at Volkswagen.

Bennett-Hobek said the group was chosen based on its candidates' wide range of backgrounds, from sports and wellness to education and business. In addition to fundraising, the board will be instrumental in providing input for programming and future planning, as well as providing places, avenues and recreational opportunities for locals.

"They're all subject matter experts in their own way, and they can bring that level of expertise to the board," City Manager Ted Rogers told commissioners during a workshop meeting June 25.

As director of Parks and Recreation, Bennett-Hobek will serve as president of the body, and finances will be operated by the city's finance manager, Michelle Toro.

As for what projects may be coming down the line, Bennett-Hobek said locals will just have to wait and see, though she intends to seek feedback from residents when the time is right.

"A lot of this about vision," she said. "There's not a master plan yet. That's kind of the way we're heading. So we'll need public input at some point."

Email Myron Madden at

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July 2, 2018


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