Chattanooga accepts $227,000 in grants to reboot Miller Park

Salvation Army Captain Aaron Goldfarb talks about the beat the heat services they are providing Tuesday in Miller Park.

A planned $3 million project would renovate Miller Park with the goal of making it more usable for public events and easier for pedestrians to connect to Patten Parkway and M.L. King Boulevard.

Plans call for Patten Parkway - Chattanooga's first outdoor market in the 1800s - to be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly gathering place. And officials hope to bring more activity to Miller Park and the city center as a whole.

Officials want to improve landscaping in the park and make it easier to hold events such as concerts there. Currently, the fountain prevents such programs.

"The design of Miller Park [now] is extremely difficult to use for programming," said Jenny Park, strategic capital planner for the city. "We want it to look nice and be more inviting. That space is really at the heart of downtown."

Some landscaping improvements also are needed, officials said. For example, some trees need to be replaced because roots have damaged the sidewalks.

City Council members Tuesday passed two resolutions to jump-start the effort to improve the park. One will allow the city to take $27,700 from the River City Company to cover design fees for the multiphase Miller Park District Project. Another accepts $200,000 from the Benwood Foundation to pay for design.

And after accepting that money, the city voted to pay $693,700 to Spackman, Mossop, Michaels and Eskew+Dumez+Ripple to do the work.

The total cost of the design for Miller Park, Patten Parkway and M.L. King improvements, is expected to cost $3.02 million. Park said the city budgeted $2.8 million in 2015.

photo Salvation Army Captain Aaron Goldfarb talks about the beat the heat services they are providing Tuesday in Miller Park.

Miller Park is the first phase of the project, and the first public meeting about the changes will be at the end of July, Park said.

The project area is split between Districts 7 and 8.

District 7 Councilman Chris Anderson said the renovation will be a boon to the city.

"This is, of course, in both of our districts, the heartbeat of the city that drives a thriving downtown," Anderson said.

Moses Freeman, who represents District 8, said the Benwood grant is "one of the examples for fine partnerships" the city has with organizations throughout the city.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@times, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.