A new video produced and released by East Knoxville's Park City Preservation Alliance (http://www.preserveparkcity.org/) is making the rounds on social media this weekend as a rallying cry to "Save Caswell Park." The video is a response to the City of Knoxville's proposal to re-zone a portion of the park from its protective "Park & Open Space" zoning to a planned residential development, effectively transferring public park land to private hands for housing.

To watch and share the video, visit: https://youtu.be/nKdtzEDJDWE

The ten minute documentary style video explains some of the history of the formerly segregated park, including the history that part of the park had been sold before (in the 1920s), and that several parks serving predominantly Black neighborhoods had been sold during the period of urban renewal.

The video captures the idea that when West Knoxville park land was threatened with residential development, the law was literally changed to prevent that from happening (giving rise to the City's protective "Park and Open Space" zoning, also known as OS-2). When an East Knoxville park serving a diverse, lower income neighborhood is again threatened with development, the City Administration says that law doesn't even apply.

Tuesday night's City Council meeting will determine if a secretive "Land Acquisition Committee" vote to dispose of park land, a planning commission recommendation based on misinformation, and five Council votes and two readings are all that stand between public park land being sold or given away for private development.

Snipping of ordinance proposing to give away Caswell Park.

This is the first real test of the City's Park & Open Space zoning. The reality is that if the zoning is not protective of this park, it doesn't protect any park, and everyone's neighborhood park is just one development proposal away from being given away.

To watch and share the video, visit: https://youtu.be/nKdtzEDJDWE

To write your Council members and weigh in, visit http://knoxvilletn.gov/government/city_council/city_council_members.

Ron Peabody's picture

After looking at this video

After looking at this video it kind of seems like East Knoxville has lost enough of its parkland.

Using 20% of the remaining available open space in Caswell Park for Chronically Homeless housing seems to go against everything that the OS2 zoning ordinance was about.

How can the Rogero Administration legally justify this action?

Sandra Clark's picture

Knox TN Today posted a link

Knox TN Today posted a link to this video today:

(link...)

There's a lot of lobbying going on, but I'm not counting 5 votes to pass this rezoning at this point. Both candidates for mayor should request a delay. Parkridge neighbors have not been well treated on this one.

Ron Peabody's picture

Agreed. There is a

Agreed.

There is a perception that Mayor Rogero's Administration attempted to improperly manipulate the Recode process to allow this property to be donated to VMC for chronically homeless housing, without proper notification or input from the residents of Parkridge, much less the other residents of the City of Knoxville.

Since the altered Recode map was accidentally released in March alerting Parkridge residents of this scheme, the City of Knoxville has done nothing in their revisionist attempts to cover their tracks to prove otherwise.

At the very least the decision should be put off until the new City Council and new Mayor take office.

bizgrrl's picture

Keep up the good work.

Keep up the good work.

Park Citizen's picture

Petulance? Righteousness? I'm not sure.

It's strange to me that a lame duck Mayor, given a successful (8-1) motion to delay this vote by the Council representative for that district, and the unquestionable recent history of city staff trying to run this through bypassing the public entirely (the ReCode debacle) and deliberately polluting public discourse with misinformation (that the parcels are not really park land anyway; that they were always envisioned as future development parcels; that there are supposed grant deadlines that VMC themselves can't confirm; that alternative park space has been explored) feels justified in scolding an entire neighborhood for being "uncivil" to city employees, as she did for several minutes at the end of last night's council meeting.

I'm honestly not sure what one is expected to do that would be qualified as "civil" when faced with an administration that will not back down from demonstrably untrue talking points, if pointing that out means that you're exhibiting bad behavior.

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