Sculpture garden at Chattanooga's Montague Park on track to open in spring 2012

Sculpture garden at Chattanooga's Montague Park on track to open in spring 2012

November 15th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in News

Large art pieces dot the sculpture garden section of Montague Park on Wednesday.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

Montague Park in Chattanooga

Montague Park in Chattanooga

Photo by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

A sculpture park on Chattanooga's Southside was approved by regional planners Monday, moving the 20-acre garden one step closer to a lease with the city and a spring opening.

Officials with Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, a nonprofit organization overseeing the project, hope to rotate different exhibits for free viewing, holding about 50 pieces of art at a time.

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency recommended Monday that the city lease the northern part of Montague Park to the nonprofit.

The city would be responsible for the same park maintenance and security provided at other city parks, and Sculpture Fields would run the rest of the operation, according to local artist and organization leader John Henry.

"It's a win for everybody," Henry said. "We're footing the bills and, unfortunately up till now I'm footing the bill, but I'm very pleased to do it. It's a great addition to the city."

Henry, whose sculptures appear across the country, has a workshop adjacent to the park. He said the park won't receive taxpayer money and he hopes it will draw tourists to the area.

"We envision people coming, having picnics. Occasionally we may have an entertainment venue," he said. "The sky's the limit."

The city Parks and Recreation Department plans to make the southern part of Montague Park a rugby pitch, but there was no discussion of that part of the park Monday.

City Councilman and planning agency member Jack Benson said he only sees the city benefiting from park improvements.

"It's a good opportunity to help revive Montague Park area," he said. "It would be an asset to the city."

Follow the latest Chattanooga news on Facebook