published Friday, August 19th, 2011

Ideas sought by park planners in Chattanooga

by Cliff Hightower
Staff File Photo by John Rawlston
The Tennessee River curves around Moccasin Bend in between Lookout Mountain and downtown Chattanooga.
Staff File Photo by John Rawlston The Tennessee River curves around Moccasin Bend in between Lookout Mountain and downtown Chattanooga.

Maps hung on all four walls of the banquet hall showing concepts planners hope to turn into reality.

The plans included tree-lined streets with sidewalks along Manufacturers and Hamm roads. They also included plans to save marshy woodlands and place a new park with sculptures just beneath U.S. Highway 27.

The plan is to transform an industrial area into a scenic corridor for two premier parks within spitting distance of downtown Chattanooga.

"I truly believe it's the next big thing in our future," Mayor Ron Littlefield said. "Moccasin Bend is the next big thing."

A public meeting was held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Chattanooga Convention Center on a gateway plan for the Moccasin Bend National Archaeological Area and Stringer's Ridge. Planners said the main focus was on how Manufacturers and Hamm roads could become jewels as visitors arrive to see the two parks.

The Chattanooga Design Center in the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, the city, the National Park Service and the Trust for Public Land held the event.

More than 200 people crowded into the convention hall to meander around and look at the plans. A presentation was then made and the consultants conducting the study, landscape architects Jones & Jones, led the crowd through a list of poll questions.

Shelly Andrews, executive director of Friends of Moccasin Bend, said the area around the Northshore has become a mixed-use community and "we want to continue that."

"We heard early on that people don't want this to be another Pigeon Forge," she said.

Some of the concepts include a Manufacturer's Park at the exits of U.S. Highway 27 with sculptures highlighting the industrial past of the area. Another concept is extending the Riverwalk through the area.

Karen Hundt, planner and director for the Design Center, said there does need to be a realistic approach and it could take years for the ideas to become reality. It will probably take a combination of public and private money, she said.

"We're going to have to implement things in phases," she said.

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