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Nearly 40-year-old Miller Park is going to get an update in 2016.

For those too young to remember or those who have moved to the city in the last 30-plus years, it's hard to imagine what a shot in the arm Miller Park was to downtown Chattanooga when it was built in 1976.

The dream of civic leader Burkett Miller, the block-square park became an oasis of calm in the midst of a busy downtown, a place to have a quiet lunch or read a book.

It was the first spot downtown that signaled to residents and visitors that there was more to the central city than a place to spend the workday. In its first decade, 150 to 175 noontime programs a year were held there.

By the time its companion, Miller Plaza, opened in 1988, city visionaries were trumpeting the potential of downtown Chattanooga as a place that didn't roll up the rug at 5 p.m. The rest, of course, is history, and the city's downtown is now thriving.

Now, the city, along with River City Co. and the Benwood Foundation, have allocated $3 million so Miller Park and Patten Parkway can be upgraded.

The design is still in its infancy, and work is unlikely to start until 2016, but Chattanoogans should appreciate the part the nearly 40-year-old park played in the city's renaissance.

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