published Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Two new Chattanooga parks near opening day


by Cliff Hightower
Wendell Whitener, right, and Charles Brown put down sod at one of the entrances to the new Main Terrain Park in downtown Chattanooga on Friday. The park, located on Main Street, will include exercise stations, interactive sculptures and more.
Wendell Whitener, right, and Charles Brown put down sod at one of the entrances to the new Main Terrain Park in downtown Chattanooga on Friday. The park, located on Main Street, will include exercise stations, interactive sculptures and more.
Photo by Alyson Wright.

Chattanooga is closing in on opening two new parks within the next few months, including the first downtown park created in 15 years.

The Main Terrain Art Park, located off Main Street, is set to open in three weeks and Stringer's Ridge, an urban nature park, is expected to open by spring.

Larry Zehnder, the city's Parks and Recreation director, said it is a bit unusual for two parks to open within a few months of each other. Just opening a park at all is rare, he said.

"It's not something we do every year," he said.

Stringer's Ridge, the larger of the two parks, has been on the drawing board for almost three years. The Trust for Public Land, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust and Chattanooga combined to acquire the property after it was threatened with development almost five years ago.

Rick Wood, executive director of Chattanooga's Trust for Public Land, said the park should be open sometime in the spring.

"That is certainly the plan and the hope," Wood said.

Directional signs are already being made to place on the trails. The trails, which includes hiking and mountain biking trails, have been built, he said.

"The trails are in really good shape," he said.

The Main Terrain Art Park will open Jan. 24. It will be the first downtown park created from scratch since Coolidge Park opened in 1997, Zehnder said.

It will be a smaller park of two to three acres, he said. But it is much needed downtown to help provide more green space, he said.

"It's about time," Zehnder said.

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