Knoxville holds public meeting on future of Chilhowee Park & Expo Center

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The future of a popular East Knoxville park was the focal point of a community meeting Wednesday evening. A consulting team presented its recommendations on ways to better utilize Chilhowee Park and Exposition Center.

“One of those things was a new amphitheater that would better serve the community and provide a larger space for venue. It also involved a better multipurpose facility other than the Jacob Building,” said Chip Barry with the City of Knoxville.

Those are two key elements of a consulting team’s recommendation, along with incorporating more greenspace.

“The main components of it would be a beautification of the park, make it more inclusive, open it up to community, and focus on elements that could turn it into more of a year round park,” Bill Krueger with CSL International said.

“I’m really excited about the idea of investing in this area and bringing it to life on a more regular basis,” nearby resident Kim Trent said.

They’re bringing the new elements in and proposing moving some out. The team’s strategic plan also looks at relocating the Tennessee Valley Fair to an alternate site, citing the opportunity for an enhanced, higher performing fairgrounds product.

“With some of the facilities including all of the asphalt for the midway and including some of the live stock facilities that tie up a lot of acreage, at this point in time we do feel like a part of the strategy would include finding and redeveloping a site parcel for the fair,” Krueger said.

The total plan as presented would cost about $80 to $100 million, with the recommendation to address flooding at the park first before addressing anything else.

The city stressing the fact that right now, it’s all just an idea.

“The plan itself is simply a recommendation. There is no plan forward to implement anything in this plan, there is no plan or funding for any part of this plan. That will be up to the next administration to tackle those issues,” Barry said.

A reminder – city council last month passed a resolution to ban gun shows at city-owned properties. Of course, that includes Chilhowee Park. A city representative telling us that was not a driving force for this study.

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If you’ve got any questions or comments about the study, you can email them to: comments@knoxvilletn.gov

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