By Mike Steely
South Knoxville has some beautiful historic homes and buildings and neighborhoods that are proud of their area and the history there.
As you cross the Henley Street Bridge and drive down Chapman Highway into South Knoxville, you might not realize how many things are still changing for the residents there now that the area is reviving and beginning to prosper again.
Here is a look at what is happening for our neighborhoods south of the river.
Taking a hike
The South Woodlawn Neighborhood Association, the state’s first community to be a Certified Wildlife Habitat, will be partnering with TREK South on Sunday, March 15 to hike the Seven Islands State Birding Park. The idea is to celebrate National Wildlife Week and hikers will be joined by Mac Post of the Harvey Broome Group of the Sierra Club to help identify animals.
TREK South was formed as a hiking group to spread the word about South Knoxville’s many parks and wild areas. Their scope has broadened and now TREK South includes parks, businesses, restaurants, historic sites and wild areas.
Seven Islands, Tennessee’s newest park on Kodak Road in Knox County has 8 miles of mowed trails that wind up hills and down to the waterfront. Most of the trail is flat and the path loops around the park which borders the French Broad River through wetlands and wooded area.
The South Woodlawn neighborhood has been recognized by the National Wildlife Fund for the creation of an animal habitat and the recognition brings positive attention to South Knoxville. The neighborhood organization is a member of the South Knoxville Neighborhood Coalition.
State of South Knoxville Meeting
Danny Gray, of the South Woodlawn neighborhood, will host a State of South Knoxville meeting on Thursday, February 26 at Flenniken Landing, 115 Flenniken Avenue, at 6:30.
Members of local government are planning to attend the community forum to hear from their constituents. Among those planning to attend are Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis, Commissioner Mike Brown, and Knox County School Board member Amber Rountree.
“This is the first time that we have brought the city, county and schools together for a forum to have community questions and input from our district. I hope many of our constituents take the time to come out for a chat. It is near budget time for all three entities, so come out and tell us what you think. You have three elected leaders who work well together and hopefully we all work together to make “South” grow in the right direction,” said Commissioner Brown.
“I am really excited to continue to bring government to the people. This is an awesome opportunity for our constituents to hear our vision for the district and to ask us questions about what matters to them the most,” said Pavlis.
“South Knox is all about community. In order for our community to flourish, we must all work together on the same team. I’m thrilled to be part of the ‘State of South Knox’ meeting with Vice Mayor Pavlis and Commissioner Brown, as we take this opportunity to hear from the community about how we can come together and make South Knox even better,” said Rountree.
Anyone wanting more information on the meeting can contact Danny Gray at 680-6934 or email@example.com.
Candy for Valentine’s Day
Volunteers at the Lake Forest Presbyterian Church spent the day prior to Valentine’s Day making candy at the church. Lisa Griffith told The Focus that the church has been doing so for 10 years. The home-made treats go in Treat Boxes to the KARM Rescue Ministry and the church’s adopted school, Dogwood Elementary. The church is a partner in education with the school and the candy is for the teaching staffGriffith said that 25 to 30 people get involved in the yearly candy making, just one of the church’s efforts to help the community. The church is located at 714 Lake Forest Drive just off Chapman Highway.
“The candy is for the homeless and we just want to show love,” Griffith said.
“This is a unique ministry, a mission,” she said.
The homemade treats included coconut bonbons, chocolate dipped peanut and cashew clusters, and chocolate fudge and were delivered to the teachers at Dogwood Elementary and to KARM.
Those who made and packaged candy included Dave and Madeline Bilbrey, Christie Irvin, Lisa Griffith, Gray Griffith, Ann and Andy Graf, Emma and Carol Vinson, Debbi Potts, Louise Davis, Eileen Wilson and Paige McPherson.
The congregation and many others in the community ordered candy to help to defray the cost of the candy making.
The South Knoxville Neighborhood Coalition
Nine organizations make up the South Knoxville Neighborhood Coalition. These include the South Woodlawn group, Colonial Village, Island Home park, Lake Forest, Montgomery Village, Old Sevier, South Haven, Southside Riverfront and the South Knoxville Alliance.
The Coalition encourages and mentors new neighborhood associations, engages in participation by area residents and businesses in addressing issues, promotes positive relationships between South Knoxville and the city, county, and governing bodies, and supports and promotes educational, recreational, cultural and economic assets of the area.
Neighborhood groups interested in joining can apply for a Welcome Packet. The Coalition can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 309-4661.
South Knoxville Alliance
Made up of businesses and organizations in the 37920 zip code, the South Knoxville Alliance, aka K-Town South, represents on the most unique areas in the city.
The group has joined active business and civic leaders to strengthen the area by promoting the many assets to fellow Knoxvillians, visitors and guests. You can find the South Knoxville Alliance online and the group maintains a Facebook page.
On March 14 the South Knoxville Alliance will host Knoxville Soup, a fund raising event designed to support creative projects proposed by community members. The soup dinner begins at 6 p.m. and a $5 donation is greatly appreciated. Attendees will hear presentations of proposed projects designed to better the community and then those present will vote on the proposals. Proceeds from the donations will be awarded to the winning presenters.
The Alliance plans to host Knoxville Soup throughout the year.
The featured trail in the 2015 Dogwood Arts Festival is in South Knoxville and the Alliance is sponsoring several cleanup days before the event. Volunteers will meet Saturday, February 21 and Sunday, March 29 to prepare Chapman Highway and nearby neighborhoods for visitors.
The organization also promotes a monthly cleanup at Fort Dickerson Park the last Saturday of each month, meeting at the park at 11 a.m.
Want more information about the South Knoxville Alliance? Contact Clay Barry at email@example.com.
The alliance meets the third Monday of each month at various locations and the officers include Debra Bradshaw as Chair, Sharon Davis as Secretary, and Janice Tocher as Treasurer. Directors include Patrick Michael, Aimee Pehrson, Allen Smith and Monte Stanley.
Charter E. Doyle Park
Want an unexpected surprise in South Knoxville? The Charter E. Doyle Park, at 5100 West Martin Mill Pike, is just that.
Located about two miles off Chapman Highway, the 28-acre park has a shelter, playground, lots of open space, and paved and unpaved trails. It also has a Petsafe Dog Park where your dog can run free or play with other dogs off leash.
The park was donated in by the Doyle family and has two tennis courts, a ball field, restrooms, picnic tables with grills, and the Charter Doyle Greenway and Mildred Doyle Nature Trail. It also connects to Mooreland Heights Elementary School.
Improvements are underway
The new $3.2 million Waterfront Drive, a tree-lined access to the new five-acre Suttree Landing Park is currently underway. Charles Blalock and Sons, Inc. are grading and placing utilities on the locally funded new street. The project will include sidewalks, lighting, street paving, sewer lines and storm pipes. The new 2,988 foot long, two-lane street, will run along the Tennessee River and extend both Barber and Foggy Bottom streets from Langford Avenue to the Waterfront Drive and should be completed in 2016.
Demolition at the former Baptist Hospital is well underway and the final building standing is expected to come down soon to make room for a 315-unit luxury apartment complex there on the south side of Henley Street Bridge. The project began in January, 2014 and the Vol Inn, on the corner of Chapman Highway and Blount Avenue, will be the fifth and final building to come down. The new complex will offer apartments as well as retail space as part of Blanchard & Calhoun’s commercial mixed-use master plan.
Fort Dickerson is getting a new entrance and construction is underway in the new realignment project. The G&R Automotive building has been demolished and grading operations along Chapman Highway are in progress. A concrete retaining wall is being built and the project will align Fort Dickerson Road with Woodlawn Pike and include about 475 feet of new two-lane road with a sidewalk.
The new entrance is expected to be complete this summer.