Main Street park taking shape in Chattanooga

Main Street park taking shape in Chattanooga

September 25th, 2012 in Opinion Times

Chattanooga's renowned public-private partnerships continues to bring vital change to the city's landscape. A prime example is the new Main Terrain Art Park now under construction in the Southside on a vacant plot extending along Broad Street from West Main Street to 13th Street. When completed, hopefully by the end of the year, the park will become the latest landmark in the city's renaissance born of such successful collaborative relationships.

The park serves disparate but essential purposes. It will be a showcase for art, and it should be a catalyst for continued residential, small business and commercial growth in an area rapidly becoming another Chattanooga model for urban redevelopment. It also will provide recreational opportunities for nearby residents and for visitors. And lastly, in a neat feat of engineering and design, it will serve as a stormwater drainage basin for the area.

The project is a complicated but exciting -- one that meets aesthetic and infrastructure benchmarks. The $1 -million-plus park is being underwritten by a major contribution from the Lyndhurst Foundation, by funds from other private organizations and groups, by a $250,000 grant for sculpture from the National Endowment for the Arts and by appropriations from the City of Chattanooga. It is a partnership that, while not unique, is typical of those that have made the city a leader in community development.

When complete, the new park will contain a sculptural centerpiece that encourages physical activity and a walking track and attractive greenspace that together should provide pleasant amenities for all who visit it. Landscaping has started and a monumental Albert Paley sculpture, which will remain on view for two years, has been installed at the corner of Broad and Main. Construction of the retention pond, a necessity in contemporary urban infrastructure, will start soon.

The Main Terrain Art Park should promote additional development and renewal in a part of the city that already is undergoing both. The Southside, a natural extension of the urban growth that started on the downtown shore of the Tennessee River around two decades ago, then spread across the river and then southward toward Lookout Mountain, is increasingly becoming an attractive metropolitan oasis. Anchored initially by Finley Stadium, the First Tennessee pavilion and pioneering residential, retail and commercial developments, the area is ripe for more welcome growth.

The Main Street park, the extension of the Tennessee Riverwalk from downtown to St. Elmo, and the revelation of new residential and commercial projects in the Southside indicate anew that mixed-use development in the city is possible and highly desirable. It also affirms that public-private partnerships remain an efficient and proven way to underwrite it.