Public's help sought for redesign of Oak Ridge Jackson Square

Public's help sought for redesign of Oak Ridge Jackson Square

Posted:
Jackson Square was once the main gathering place for Oak Ridge. Jackson Square was once the main gathering place for Oak Ridge.
"It's not neglected but it certainly can use some attention," said Katherine Baldwin, the community development director for Oak Ridge. "It's not neglected but it certainly can use some attention," said Katherine Baldwin, the community development director for Oak Ridge.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - The city of Oak Ridge is turning to the public for input on the final plans to revitalize the historic Jackson Square.

Oak Ridge received a nearly $8,000 grant from TDOT last summer to redevelop the square bordered by Broadway Avenue and Tennessee Avenue.

Jackson Square was once the main gathering place for Oak Ridge.

"This was the heart and soul of Oak Ridge which was formulated in the 1940s to help the war effort. This was where everyone came," said Kathy Seivers, who's worked in the Square for nearly a decade.

Since the 1940s, not much has changed in the square except there are now fewer visitors. The city hopes to change that with new plans to revitalize the town center.

"It's not neglected but it certainly can use some attention," said Katherine Baldwin, the community development director for Oak Ridge.

Since the announcement that the heart of downtown Oak Ridge would be receiving a much needed face lift, the city has been seeking the opinions of anyone and everyone, trying to create a space that everyone can enjoy.

"We've heard from the community on things like ‘they want wifi for the area, we want to be able to sit under trees, a canopy of trees, we want a lot of benches," Baldwin said of the wishes of Oak Ridgers.

Now they'll let the community pick the final design in the hopes it will have a little something for everyone.

"It's our historical center so going back to utilize that is kind of like returning home I suppose," Baldwin said.

Businesses owners in the square who've been around for years say the new design will bring new customers.

"I think it will help business because it will be a more attractive place to come, more updated," Barbara Ferrell said.

More than anything, they say it will return the life back to the heart of Oak Ridge.

"Believe it or not there are many people who live in Oak Ridge who have never been to Jackson Square," Ferrell said.

They hope the redesign will change that.

"Everyone needs a place to be and to gather and learn the news and see their neighbors," explained Seivers.

Residents can view the three different designs at Wednesday's public meeting, which will take place at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce at 6:30 p.m.

Construction is set to begin in January with the hopes the project will be complete by spring 2014 just in time for the city's Lavender Festival.

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