Nonprofit hopes killed JWP project means entranceway

Nonprofit hopes killed JWP project means entranceway for Urban Wilderness

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The Legacy Parks Foundation said it would like the land at the end of James White Parkway to serve as a gateway into the natural landscape of South Knoxville. The Legacy Parks Foundation said it would like the land at the end of James White Parkway to serve as a gateway into the natural landscape of South Knoxville.
"It creates an opportunity to make that a real entry into the Urban Wilderness," Legacy Parks Foundation Executive Director Carol Evans said. "It creates an opportunity to make that a real entry into the Urban Wilderness," Legacy Parks Foundation Executive Director Carol Evans said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A local nonprofit group hopes plans to end the James White Parkway extension project will mean more access to the city's urban wilderness.

TDOT announced Wednesday it will stop work on the project after the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization voted to remove the project from the four-year Transportation Improvement Project, meaning it lost federal funds.

The Legacy Parks Foundation said it would like the land at the end of James White Parkway to serve as a gateway into the natural landscape of South Knoxville.

"It creates an opportunity to make that a real entry into the Urban Wilderness," Executive Director Carol Evans said. "You actually have a logical connection where you might put parking. You might put Park and Ride, where people can park their cars and ride their bikes to downtown."

South Knoxville is home to multiple walking trails and scenic sites like the Ijams Nature Center.

A local family also donated 100 acres of land in South Knoxville this week to the Urban Wilderness initiative.

Betty Wilkerson has lived in South Knoxville for almost 50 years and often hikes through the trails.

Wilkerson said she's pleased TDOT has killed the parkway extension and hopes the city invests more in the Urban Wilderness.

"I just like to see all the trees and I think it's a beauty," Wilkerson said. "If you take everything away it, takes the beauty away when we cut the trees down. I think we've got enough roads as it is."

No official discussions have started yet, but Knoxville City leaders told 6 News they like the concept of creating an entrance into the Urban Wilderness and look forward to discussions with local groups and TDOT about the possibilities.

Disappointment in TDOT's decision

Not everyone is pleased with TDOT's decision to kill the project.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters is on the TPO but was not present for the vote.

Waters told 6 News the vote was not included on the original agenda, and therefore, he did not know they were going to vote on the issue. He said had he known, he would have attended the meeting and voted against dropping the project.

Waters called the decision "premature" and said he is "disappointed they ended the process without getting assurances of improvements on Chapman Highway."

Waters said he feels the public meetings on the project should have been held as previously planned before a final decision was made.

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