Residents, city representatives and a U.S. congressman gathered at the location of the future Moccasin Bend visitors center on Monday afternoon to witness the reveal of the new visitors center signs. The center will be located across from 159 Hamm Road on the North Shore, overlooking the Tennessee River.
The signs are the first step in launching a two-year planning process for what exactly the visitor center will look like, said Michael Wurzel, executive director of the Friends of Moccasin Bend.
He said the center will be between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet in size and will detail more than 10,000 years of American Indian history on the land.
The cost for the center will range between $5 million and $15 million, he said, with funding coming from capital campaigns as well as federal and state funds.
Politicians present Monday were open about the fact they were there to ease tensions over the police shooting range that sits on Moccasin Bend park land, as well as to show support for the visitor center. There has been discussion about moving the shooting range, but nothing more.
In a speech to attendees, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said all parties involved in that negotiation have been brought together.
"We are all working in every positive and amicable way going forward," he said.
"The issue is not that the parties aren't working together ..." he said, "but finding a new place for the firing range is what's difficult."
Troy Wayne Poteet, executive director for the National Trail of Tears Association and a Supreme Court justice for the Cherokee Nation, said the Moccasin Bend land is significant to his tribe because it includes parts of the Trail of Tears.
"We talk about (the Trail) as a testimony to the tenacity of our ancestors," he said.
Wurzel said that official planning for the visitor center will begin in January. Completion could come as early as 2017 or 2018, he said.
Contact staff writer Hannah Smith at email@example.com or at 423-757-6731.