Former school site in Alton Park to become Southside Community Park

Former school site in Alton Park to become Southside Community Park

April 11th, 2017 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

City Councilman Chris Anderson, left, assists Rose Mary Porter through muddy terrain as Mayor Andy Berke, right, carries shovels Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 after officially breaking ground for a new park that will be built a the site of the former Charles A. Bell Elementary School.

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

Alton Park now has a name for its new park, located on the former Charles A. Bell Elementary School site: Southside Community Park.

Chattanooga's Department of Economic and Community Development announced Monday the name had been picked through a community input process that took place in late February.

Rose Mary Porter, second from left, speaks Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 about a new park that will be built a the site of the former Charles A. Bell Elementary School as Lori Goerlich, City Councilman Chris Anderson, Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey and Mayor Andy Berke, from left, listen.

Rose Mary Porter, second from left, speaks Thursday,...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

"Community leaders also explored names for the park that included historic leaders and neighborhood visionaries," department spokeswoman Marissa Bell said. "Chattanooga's Open Spaces division is working with the community on a special way to incorporate and honor the names of leaders who have been influential in Alton Park and the surrounding areas."

Alton Park neighborhood leader Rosemary Porter praised the inclusive nature of the park's name.

"I think the park name is really nice, and it includes the entire community on the Southside, and everyone on the Southside will be welcome," Porter said. "Everybody will know that it's inclusive. It's for everybody, not just certain sections."

The former school closed in 1989 and was demolished in 2011, and the site took a move toward its new life as an open green space in 2014 when Chattanooga bought the property. Since then, Alton Park neighborhood leaders and District 7 Councilman Chris Anderson have worked with the Economic and Community Development Department to include public input in the park's design.

The city broke park ground in February and expects to complete construction later this summer, Bell said.

In December, the Chattanooga City Council approved the expenditure of nearly $1 million allocated by Mayor Andy Berke to the capital project.

"The neighborhoods surrounding the new Southside Community Park are full of history and represent Chattanoogans from all walks of life," Berke said. "These community leaders have worked hard to see this day come, where a vacant site in the middle of their neighborhood is transformed into a beautiful space for families and friends to gather."

The park will include an open lawn for community activities, benches, a large pavilion with picnic tables, restrooms and a quarter-mile walking path.

Contact staff writer Paul Leach at 423-757-6481 or pleach@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_tfp.


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