Fund for Fort Kid maintenance remains untouched

Fund for Fort Kid maintenance remains untouched

Fort Kid was built in just five days as part of Knoxville's Bicentennial celebration. Fort Kid was built in just five days as part of Knoxville's Bicentennial celebration.

6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Is there a chance to save Fort Kid? The City of Knoxville announced four years ago the all-wood playground downtown was too expensive to maintain and would slowly be phased out.

It turns out there is a $60,000 fund just for its maintenance that hasn't been touched in years.  

The playground was opened in April 1991.

Fort Kid was built in just five days as part of Knoxville's Bicentennial celebration, with help from more than 2,500 volunteers and $100,000 in private donations.

The playground, in front of the Knoxville Museum of Art, was closed for a couple of years after a fire at nearby homes on Eleventh Street.

It has reopened, but the city says pieces are being removed as they become too deteriorated or unsafe.     

The city says the newer, more modern playground at World's Fair Park has become popular with families in the last few years.

Still, there are still those who favor the unique design of Fort Kid, including the woman who organized its construction back in 1991.

"I always love to say that the biggest contributors to Fort Kid were the children. We had a penny campaign and we raised $12,260.17 in pennies!" Beth Waters remembered.

Back then, Waters saved $10,000 in donations for a maintenance fund that has now grown to nearly $60,000.

"The city and Public Building Authority for the most part has maintained it and we would pay for different pieces of equipment. So they've known that the fund was there, but they really haven't needed or wanted to tap into it," Waters said.

When asked about the fund, the communications manager for the City of Knoxville, Jesse Fox Mayshark, said in an email, "We don't know what funds are available or what they could be used for. The mayor is interested in learning more from Mrs. Waters."

"I suspect they would like to just see us go away, but maybe it is time to rebuild and maybe the city would like to say, here is a better piece of land at World's Fair Park or at Lakeshore Park and since we know you've got that $60,000, it'd be great to have seed money," Waters said.

Parents and kids at the playground Thursday said they would be sad to see it go.

"I've been coming here since I was three," said Dylan Tipton, 10. "It's made of wood. It's real old-fashioned. It's not metal like all the new ones."

"I think it's awesome. If I were a kid I would want to hang out here," said parent Melissa Everett. "I think they should keep it up."

Once the playground equipment is gone, the city's plan for the Fort Kid property is for it to become a public green space.

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