CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Outdoor enthusiasts gathered at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to offer their thoughts on the future of Chattanooga’s parks.
Tonight was just the first public workshop that revolved around the city’s new Parks and Outdoors Plan.
The goal in mind is to provide premium access to the park for all Chattanoogans, regardless of background and zip code.
From wildlife-inviting industrial gardens to outdoor libraries and even cricket grounds, everything is on the table for the future of Chattanooga Parks.
“Today is blue sky day,” said Chattanooga Parks & Outdoors administrator Scott Martin. “There are going to be a lot of days of ‘I can’t afford’, ‘where will the resources come from’, [and] the napalms of negativity. It’s not that.
Public input is desired from the city, as it envisions decades in advance what its parks might be.
The city’s parks and outdoors plan will feature six months of public engagement, including community workshops and online surveys.
It is based on four principles: equity, access, quality and place.
“Where you’re from, your class economically, your background – these parks are for everyone and that’s kind of what this whole plan is about,” said Charlie Mix, director of geographic information systems from UTC.
Martin says that with today’s crippling inflation and high gas prices, the need for city parks has never been greater.
In light of recent violence among the city’s youth, he also believes city parks could provide an opportunity to reach the next generation.
Martin: What if we integrated e-sport into our outdoor park spaces? What would this mean for families? With the violence we experience here in our community, what if one of our distractions for our children and youth were positive outdoor electronic experiences? Meet them where they are.
After attending the first public session of the parks plan, Mix believes the Chattanoogans are ready to continue advancing the great outdoors in the scenic town.
Mix: There is huge community participation. I have attended several planning events like this over the years and have never seen such turnout. So I think that shows how excited people are about Chattanooga parks.
Design Workshop’s Kurt Culbertson has seen park master plans come to fruition in Vancouver, Denver, and New Orleans, among other cities.
He was impressed with the size of the crowd tonight and is excited to see where the city is taking its parks.
For those interested in participating in the POP development process, maps, surveys and more are available online.