Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposed 2023-24 budget includes nearly $9.5 million in Parks and Recreation Department operational funding, plus $3.1 million in capital funding for major upgrades at Lakeshore Park and the Williams Creek Golf Course and to kickstart work on a new community park in Lonsdale.
“My budget reflects what’s important to Knoxville families,” Mayor Kincannon said. “And enhancing parks and improving access to recreational opportunities is absolutely critical to building up and strengthening neighborhoods.
“The City is committed to creating unique and special public places in every part of Knoxville. I’m proud to propose a boost in Parks and Recreation funding and to move forward with the Lakeshore Park, Lonsdale Park and Williams Creek Golf Course projects.”
More than $30 million in private-public partnership investments have been made in Lonsdale – including a new Lonsdale Elementary School, the Haslam-Sansom Ministry Complex and a new $1 million City sidewalk on Texas Avenue.
With the old Sam E. Hill School now vacated, the City will be converting the site into a new community park. Part of the iconic school will be preserved, while the 150,000-square-foot site will be diversified to make room for sports, children’s play, and open space for community events.
The space is still being designed, based on community input at public meetings and through surveys.
Preliminarily, the new park could host Lonsdale Homecoming festivities and have a basketball court, a playground, and a covered pavilion with staging for food trucks.
The first step in the park development will be the demolition of much of the old Sam E. Hill School, with the gymnasium being preserved. Design work on the park will continue this year, to be updated to reflect residents’ preferences.
Parks and Recreation Director Sheryl Ely is hopeful that the initial park features will be added soon after the demolition is complete.
“We’re working on a design that includes features that the community has asked for,” Ely said. “Right now, based on community input, the goal is to build a playground, an outdoor fitness station, a basketball court and a community event lawn. There would be a multi-use trail, picnic tables and a multi-purpose community room with restrooms.
“This will be done in phases, with the first phase being the demolition of much of the building to make room to build in more features.”
The $1 million in Kincannon’s proposed 2023-24 budget represents a third budget year with investment in the Lonsdale Park project – now totaling $2.5 million.
To see preliminary design concepts, visit www.KnoxvilleTN.gov/LonsdalePark.
Kincannon also is proposing another $2 million in capital funds for Lakeshore Park and another $100,000 for the Williams Creek Golf Course.
The City is supporting the Lakeshore Park Conservancy’s $42 million project, underway since last year, that is adding baseball fields, pavilions, a new playground and other amenities. The City has committed funding to improve the park’s roadways and add parking.
At the Williams Creek Golf Course, the City is investing $300,000 over three years to fund improvements to the golf course cart paths, building, driving range netting and other infrastructure. The $100,000 in the 2023-24 budget would be the second installment.
To fund day-to-day operations, Mayor Kincannon is proposing a Parks and Recreation budget of close to $9.5 million – a 6.7 percent increase from the current budget, or an additional $594,380.
Of that $9.5 million, roughly half is for salaries and benefits. More than $1 million is earmarked for utilities costs.
Mayor Kincannon’s proposed budget was approved by City Council on the first of two readings on May 2, followed by a legislative budget hearing and public hearing on May 9. Council’s second and final vote on the budget is scheduled for May 30. For complete budget documents, see www.KnoxvilleTN.gov/Budget.