Lakeshore Park Conservancy announced on Monday, October 25th the start of Phase 2 Part 1 of the park’s updated master plan. Following approval by Knoxville City Council in October 2020 to the Lakeshore Park Master Plan, the Conservancy has been fundraising and working toward implementation. Construction is slated to start in November and will take about two years to complete.
To fund this revitalization of Lakeshore Park, Knoxville’s largest, most centrally located and most visited general recreation park, the Haslam family is gifting $35 million to the project. The gift was made by Natalie and Jim Haslam; Crissy and Bill Haslam; Ann and Steve Bailey; and Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
“For more than 25 years, Lakeshore Park has been an integral part of the Knoxville landscape and the setting for many facets of our community life,” Lakeshore Park Conservancy Executive Director Julieanne Foy said. “Our plans to renovate, replace, enhance and grow are rooted in our commitment to ensure the park continues to meet the needs of every visitor and the public at large. The Haslam family shares in that commitment, and their cornerstone gift will make these plans a reality for this generation and those that follow.”
The plan for Lakeshore Park reflects a continued commitment to providing the community with landscapes for mental, physical and cultural health by concentrating park improvements into athletic, civic and natural areas. Construction of new features to the park include a baseball complex, field house, pavilions with event lawns, small amphitheater, playgrounds, trails, fitness areas and a maintenance facility.
“Public-private partnerships can be key in realizing the full potential of a city, as illustrated by the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department and Lakeshore Park Conservancy,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “Green space is a critical asset for communities, adding to our quality of life by supporting the physical and mental health of our residents and making Knoxville an attractive place to live and work. This generous gift from the Haslam family will help transform Lakeshore Park to better serve and support the growing needs of our city.”
The project is led by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Sanders Pace Architecture, CEC Knoxville, Tillett Lighting Design Associates and Facility Systems Consultants, LLC. Lakeshore Park engaged renowned Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of Charlottesville, Virginia, to study the history, ecology and existing uses of the land to guide the long-term development of the park. The resulting master plan, updated in 2020, takes into account the substantial increases in the size and usage of the park, maximizing the functionality and natural landscape to create areas that visitors of every age can enjoy.
“Our grandchildren are growing up playing in Lakeshore Park, and we’ve spent invaluable time together here,” Ann Bailey said. “We know the value of this amazing place and look forward to seeing the park grow and evolve for many more families to create lasting memories like we have.”
Lakeshore Park opened in 1995 on 60 acres of leased land at the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute and has grown and evolved over the years to 185 acres owned by the City of Knoxville and managed by the conservancy. Lakeshore Park is the only general recreation park in the City of Knoxville developed through a public-private partnership. With contributions from the general public and friends of the park, the conservancy manages day-to-day operations at the park, supplements the basic services provided by the city and builds new park improvements.
“Lakeshore Park serves as a front porch for the community, overlooking the beauty of East Tennessee,” Lakeshore Park Conservancy Board Chair Dee Haslam said. “Our family is committed to supporting Knoxville and believe Lakeshore Park is one of our city’s best assets. We’ve been intimately involved with the planning and know this gift will be maximized to serve the public, preserve the land, benefit the city and foster community for many years to come.”
During this phase of the project, the park’s land stretching from the Tennessee River to Northshore Drive along the west end of the park will be transformed in stages. Park elements, such as the baseball fields, will be relocated to the athletic space of the updated layout and will make room for several new elements like the event venues and play areas. Lakeshore Park will remain open during construction, though some features and access may be limited at times.
“When I think of the places in Knoxville that make it special, Lakeshore Park absolutely is one that comes to mind,” said Bill Haslam, former Knoxville mayor and Tennessee governor. “It’s beautiful, but what makes it really terrific is how the space serves people. Every day it’s vibrant and full of life, with people relaxing and enjoying nature; playing sports and exercising; taking a stroll with friends or pets; gathering for food and fellowship; and so much more. We’re fortunate to have Lakeshore Park in our community and we are grateful to be a part of enhancing it for future generations to enjoy.”