KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knoxville City Council approved plans to build a new science museum, but some residents were not in favor.
City council members voted unanimously in favor of a new science museum Tuesday night, but not without debate. The $150 million project is being funded by businessman and philanthropist Jim Clayton. The plans to build a state-of-the-art educational science and discovery center in downtown Knoxville, have been in the works for two years now.
The museum will be located where the Knoxville Police Department currently sits.
While most of the council members were on board with the project, others had concerns of whether or not it would truly be beneficial to the community. One council member thought that the vote should be postponed to allow incoming council members a chance to look over the plans before they are approved.
One of the main concerns from residents was making sure that this project didn’t push the working class out of their homes, and that affordable housing in that area wouldn’t disappear.
Comparisons were made to the building of the KPD headquarters, the Coliseum and James White Parkway, where an African American community was destroyed to make room for these landmarks. Residents said they wanted to make sure this did not happen again.
It was also brought up that if it was sold to the Clayton Foundation, East Knoxville would no longer have power to ensure that the land is used to benefit the community that exists there today, according to residents.
Mayor Madeline Rogero, a supporter of the project, thought it was generous gift from the Clayton Foundation.
“If you look back at the history and what was taken away, this is a pretty major gift to give back to the community.” Rogero said.
There were some tense moments during the meeting, with residents showing up and asking to postpone the vote to make sure that provisions would be made in favor of the residents in the area where the museum will be.
One resident standing at the podium saying that the council was not listening to the public, and that residents did not want the museum without a stronger agreement that keeps the community in mind.
“We need to make sure the building is actually sustainable, we want to make sure that the jobs that go into working and building it are actually living wage jobs. We want to make sure that the community is actually involved so we’re not just seeing a continuation of the urban renewal and gentrification and seeing more and more working class and black people being pushed out of the area.” said David Hayes, member of the city council movement.
All of the arguments were taken into consideration, but ultimately, the resolution was passed. The Clayton Foundation hopes to break ground in 2020. The project will take 24 months to complete.
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