NEW CONSERVATION EASEMENT PROVIDES LONG TERM PROTECTION FOR LAKESHORE PARK
The City of Knoxville has placed a conservation easement on Lakeshore Park that will ensure that the natural, scenic and recreational values of the185-acre site are protected and the land will remain a public park in perpetuity. The easement was signed by Mayor Madeline Rogero and Liz McLaurin, President of the Land Trust for Tennessee, at a ceremony at the park on November 2, 2016.
Mayor Rogero proposed the conservation easement as part of the ongoing plan for development and expansion of the park. The park which was created in 1992 through a public-private partnership of the State of Tennessee, the City of Knoxville and Lakeshore Park, the non-profit corporation that manages the park on the City’s behalf. The two-mile walking trail opened in 1995, and the baseball fields and other park improvements were dedicated in May 1996.
The closure of Lakeshore Mental Health Institute in 2013 made additional land available for the park, which led to a year-long public input process and creation of an updated master plan for the park. The Lakeshore Park Board launched a capital campaign in 2015 to raise funds for expansion and improvement of the park. The City renovated the historic Administration Building, which is now home to the City Parks and Recreation Department. The City also demolished the existing buildings that could not be renovated for other use and made investments in infrastructure and utilities. The Park Board will raise funds for construction of new park improvements.
The City’s granting of the conservation easement provides assurance to prospective donors that the land will be protected and remain a public park in perpetuity. “Development of a central recreational park for all of Knoxville will require substantial financial support from people throughout the City,” said Dee Haslam, the Lakeshore Park Chair. “This easement provides written assurance to contributors that their donations are a long-term investment that will provide lasting public benefit.”
The conservation easement will be held by The Land Trust for Tennessee, an accredited nonprofit organization that holds conservation easements on other public parks and other properties across the state. Under the terms of the easement, the land will be developed as a general recreational park substantially in accordance with the approved master plan. Any development must be carried out in a manner that preserves the conservation values of the site, and any material changes must be reviewed and approved by the Land Trust.
“The Land Trust for Tennessee is honored to work with the City of Knoxville and the Lakeshore Park Board to protect this wonderful park”, said Liz McLaurin, President and CEO of The Land Trust for Tennessee. “We are thankful for the City’s foresight in permanently protecting this property for citizens now and for generations to come.”
The Land Trust for Tennessee holds over 300 conservation easements in 60 counties across Tennessee. While the majority of these projects have been completed in partnership with private landowners, The Land Trust has extensive experience working with City and County governments across Tennessee to permanently conserve public parks. Examples include Shelby Farms Park in Shelby County, Rainbow Lake in the Town of Signal Mountain, Bowie Park in Fairview, and Harlinsdale Farm in Franklin. Locally, The Land Trust holds a conservation easement on Cruze Farm which ensures that the popular dairy will remain a farm in perpetuity.
Lakeshore Park has significant conservation, scenic, recreational, and parkland resources in the hills, fields, forests, open spaces, views, vistas, wetlands, riverfront and creek-front areas on the property. The easement ensures the public will can access and enjoy these conservation values in perpetuity.
Lakeshore Park is centrally located in the City of Knoxville and is one of the City’s most used public parks. The park is bounded by two scenic highways, the Tennessee River and Fourth Creek, and the views of the river and Great Smoky Mountains have made the site a public destination for almost two hundred years.
Lakeshore Park is a popular destination for runners, walkers, picnickers, nature lovers, and sports enthusiasts of all kinds. There are two miles of paved trails and open green spaces throughout the Park, and the park facilities include baseball, softball, and soccer fields, and multiple playgrounds, including the new inclusive, accessible Hank Rappé Playground. Thousands of children participate in youth sports programs in the Park every year, including baseball, softball, flag football, lacrosse, and soccer. There is also a farmers’ market, plant sales, and community events.
Lakeshore Park is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that manages the park on behalf of the City of Knoxville and is responsible for development and construction of park improvements. A capital campaign is underway to raise funds for expansion and improvement of the park. Visit www.lakeshoreparkknoxville.org or https://www.facebook.com/lakeshoreparkknoxville/ to learn more.
The Land Trust for Tennessee is an accredited, statewide non-governmental nonprofit organization founded in 1999 with offices in Nashville, Chattanooga and at Glen Leven Farm. The Land Trust has protected over 100,000 acres of treasured farmland, historic sites, open spaces, recreational areas and wildlife habitats across Tennessee. Visit www.LandTrustTN.org to learn more.