KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville City Council has unanimously authorized Mayor Indya Kincannon’s office to finalize an agreement to design and construct a safe, accessible play structure at Fort Kid near World’s Fair Park.
The authorization allows Kincannon’s office to finalize an agreement for up to $450,000 with Great Southern Recreation, a Murfreesboro-based construction company.
Knoxville businessman Thomas Boyd has donated $200,000 to the new playground, which will be located between 11th Street and World’s Fair Park Drive. The Downtown Knoxville Alliance also contributed $250,000 to add an accessible entryway path with interactive features on the slope from World’s Fair Park Drive.
The original 30-year-old play area and a decaying retaining wall made of railroad ties were removed last year due to safety concerns. Chip Barry, the City’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, said the investments in a new Fort Kid honors the spirit of the original while providing the play activities that residents told the City they most valued.
“It was always very clear that Fort Kid is cherished and that people wanted its legacy to continue,” Barry said. “This will be a one-of-a-kind play structure, specifically designed for Knoxville. We appreciate the support from our partners and the survey input from nearly 400 people who wanted their children and grandchildren to be able to continue to play at Fort Kid.”
Construction is expected to begin in late summer, and the new play structure will be installed this fall. The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. The new structure was initially slated to be completed in Spring 2021 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, the City conducted a survey, asking people about their personal experiences with Fort Kid and asking what amenities are most valued. The survey found that playground users wanted to maintain a mix of natural elements with vibrant features and earth tones on a unique, connected, multi-level play structure. They favored a design with hiding places and observation points that encourage creative discovery and active exploration.
For a sneak peek of what the new Fort Kid will look like, go to www.knoxvilletn.gov/fortkid.