published Monday, September 24th, 2012

Downtown Chattanooga park set for construction


by Cliff Hightower

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BY THE NUMBERS

* $1 million: Construction and landscaping costs for Main Terrain

* $250,000: Sculpture costs for the park

* 40,000: Gallons of water a retention pond at the park will hold

Source: Chattanooga

Stretching from Main Street to 13th Street, a new city park is on the verge of being built in the shadow of The Chattanoogan.

Officials say it will be unlike any other park in the city.

"It's a complicated park, and it's an exciting park," said Peggy Townsend, director of Public Art Chattanooga.

The park will be half art park and half stormwater drainage basin. The City Council approved a contract for $1 million last week with Yerbey Concrete Construction, which will do the stormwater drainage work and landscaping.

The Lyndurst Foundation, along with other partners, contributed $465,000 to the park project. The city will cover the rest.

A centerpiece art sculpture is being built by Raleigh, N.C.-based sculptor Thomas Sayre, Townsend said. The National Endowment for Arts presented a grant of $250,000 to pay for the piece, she said.

Sayre won a competition held by Public Art Chattanooga and other partners. The committee asked for a specific type of sculpture, one that would also include a health and wellness element.

"It is art that encourages physical activity," Townsend said.

The centerpiece will be three pillars with bridges on the tops. The bridges can be moved, but it will take some physical effort.

Larry Zehnder, director of Parks and Recreation, said another key element will be a walking track surrounding the park, providing a place for Southside residents and tourists staying at The Chattanoogan to walk or run.

"It's a unique project," he said.

As for the park's stormwater retention properties, Assistant City Engineer Dennis Malone said a 40,000-gallon pond will be created to catch stormwater runoff from The Chattanoogan, Staybridge Suites, the Development Resource Center and Southern Star restaurant.

A system already is in place underneath The Chattanoogan for runoff, he said.

"It was anticipated at some time there would be this drainage system," he said.

The stormwater will be filtered in the retention pond, and a drainage pipe will release the water into the city's sewer system whenever a major storm comes through the area, he said.

The pond will also serve as an irrigation system for the park's landscaping, he said.

Construction will start this week and be finished by the end of the year.

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