published Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Chattanooga getting new park

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A $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts will be used to create the Main Terrain, a new urban park off West Main Street, according to an announcement Tuesday by the NEA.

The Lyndhurst Foundation has pledged a matching grant totaling $238,000 and the city has promised $12,000 to help build the park, making total investment about $500,000.

The NEA money comes from the inaugural round of “Our Town” funding, which awarded $6.575 million to 51 communities in 34 states. The grants, ranging from $2,000 to $250,000, were awarded to communities that have created public-private partnerships designed to improve the arts while impacting “the social, physical and economic characters of their neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions,” according to NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.

On Tuesday, Landesman and NEA Director of Design Jason Schupbach addressed members of the media and representatives of the various grant recipients during a conference call and webinar.

“Creative placemaking is a strategy for making places vibrant,” Schupbach said. “Arts and design are essential parts of the complex work of building a livable, sustainable community.”

The roughly 800- by 100-foot urban park, between Broad and Chestnut streets, will feature as many as five iconic interactive sculptures that encourage physical play and fitness, according to the NEA news release.

“They are artist-designed interactive pieces,” said Peggy Townsend, director of Public Arts Chattanooga and the overseer of the project, which should be completed by summer of 2012.

“We did a lot of research and really we couldn’t find a lot of examples,” she said.

PlayCore, an international outdoor equipment manufacturer headquartered here, will provide expertise on safety and design standards, she said.

Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga will be the “fiscal agent” for the project, according to Rodney Van Valkenburg, director of communications for Allied Arts.

Other private and city agencies, including the Department of Public Works, will have roles in building the park, he said.

Townsend said locating the park on West Main is part of a larger plan.

“There has been a huge investment on Main Street by our community. There are a lot of other things tied to this,” she said. “Streetscaping, bicycle racks, paving, trees. We saw an opportunity to take this decrepit space and make it a punctuation mark for Main Street.”

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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