published Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Lyndhurst Foundation gives $1.4 million for Riverwalk


by Cliff Hightower

A local foundation has stepped in to provide $1.4 million for the proposed extension of the Tennessee Riverwalk, ensuring local taxpayers aren't footing the entire bill.

The Lyndhurst Foundation is providing the money as part of its continuing efforts to help with public projects, officials said.

"We've been involved with the Riverwalk since its inception," said Bruz Clark, president of Lyndhurst.

Lyndhurst worked primarily with Hamilton County in the donation of the money. The county has stepped up as the lead player on the Riverwalk extension, which will run from Ross's Landing to the foot of Lookout Mountain.

Mike Dunne, spokesman for County Mayor Jim Coppinger, said the county was grateful for the $1.4 million gift.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • $6.1 million: Total amount of money to be spent on Tennessee Riverwalk extension

  • $4.7 million: Amount the Tennessee Department of Transportation is putting in on the extension

  • $1.4 million: Total amount Lyndhurst Foundation contributed to match transportation funds

"It's a very generous gesture," Dunne said.

Hamilton County, Chattanooga and the Trust for Public Land have all been working for more than a year to get the extension started. It will continue the almost 11 miles of trails that already stretch from the Chickamauga Dam to Ross's Landing.

Clark said the foundation has spent more than $35 million in the Riverwalk, Tennessee Aquarium and 21st Century Waterfront projects since 1982, making it a heavy investor in the downtown renaissance.

"Lyndhurst has been heavily involved in improving public infrastructure for years," Clark said.

Larry Zehnder, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, said a $4.7 million Tennessee Department of Transportation improvement grant is being placed into the construction of the Riverwalk extension.

The foundation money helps supplement the state and federal money by acting as a 20 percent match for the city and county, he said, ensuring there will be no city or county tax money put into the pot.

"The state department doesn't care where the match comes from," he said.

Rick Wood, executive director for the Trust for Public Land, said his organization is busy trying to acquire land for the Riverwalk extension so it can finally be built.

Wood said the foundation money is significant.

"They are the ones right now investing in the capital," he said.

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