Bill Moll can remember looking out his Missionary Ridge window in 1970 and knowing what day of the week it was based on how high the smog had risen.
On Thursday at an open house for the North Shore Public Spaces Design Project, he saw the city — the one he moved back to in 2010 because of its revitalization — take another step forward.
"This is just continuing that on," Moll said after walking through a room at construction equipment maker Roadtec lined with renderings of tentative plans for the aesthetic future of the North Shore and a transportation strategy intended to increase the accessibility of Moccasin Bend.
The four-element design proposal revealed by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency (RPA) is highlighted by an illustration of how the Tennessee Riverwalk will connect Coolidge Park to the future site of a Moccasin Bend visitors center.
It also shows road improvement ideas, as well as plans for two parks just west of U.S. Highway 27 in the manufacturing district between the North Shore and Moccasin Bend.
The design calls for a traffic roundabout at the intersection of Hamm and Moccasin Bend roads, as well as the installation of bike lanes on Manufacturers Road, which would be reduced to two lanes and lined with trees.
Somerville Avenue would be extended from Cherokee Boulevard to Manufacturers Road and converted to a shared-use street, providing a shortcut for those heading toward Moccasin Bend from the north on Cherokee Boulevard.
Project leader Pamela Glaser of the RPA said the design plan, scheduled to be finalized in April, is at its midway point, which made it a good time to welcome public input. People interested in the project wandered around the room, looking at boards showing the design concepts, and when they were finished, they wrote down feedback that Glaser said will help "define and refine" the project.
Attendees also heard explanations from RPA representatives and other project partners, including Brad Bennett, the superintendent of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, who anticipates the project increasing traffic to the Moccasin Bend Archeological District.
"The Tennessee Riverwalk has been so successful, and this project is sending the Riverwalk right to the National Park Service property, just like on the other side of the river where it's extending from downtown to St. Elmo where it'll tie in with Lookout Mountain," Bennett said. "Anytime we can connect a city trail, a county trail, a state trail, to a National Park trail, it gives residents and tourists options to flow from one area to another seamlessly."
Once the design is complete, implementation will come in stages, with the parks likely to be completed early in the process, while a proposed bike park under the Olgiati Bridge would remain years in the future.
Moll suggested that native plants be a part of the plans and recalled a time when Chattanoogans only interacted with the river when they were driving over it.
That has changed since the city's smoggier days, and this project will serve to open up another portion of the river to the community, he said.
"You see people walking and biking along here already," added Michael Wurzel, executive director of Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park. "But this is going to make it so much more friendly to use."
The Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution to enter into an agreement with the county to buy a portable building for a law enforcement firing range on Moccasin Bend.
Other media outlets reported Saturday that the county and Chattanooga would spend $300,000 upgrading the firing range.
However, the resolution must be passed before it goes into effect, and the Hamilton County Commission would also have to vote on the agreement. It was not on any county agenda as of Saturday.
Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond called the firing range upgrade a short-term solution, and County Mayor Jim Coppinger added that the county wants to spend as little money as possible at the Moccasin Bend site.
Hammond said the estimated $300,000 bill for the proposed upgrade would be split evenly between the city and county.
Staff writer Louie Brogdon contributed to this report. Contact staff writer David Cobb at email@example.com or 423-757-6731. Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org.