Don't Forget Ijams' and Legacy Parks' Contributions

The South Knoxville Neighborhood and Business Coalition learned that the Knox County budget as presented significantly cuts funding for Ijams Nature Center and the Legacy Parks Foundation. ["Budget Battle," Citybeat by Jesse Fox Mayshark, May 26, 2011] Our organization voted unanimously to ask county commissioners not to vote for a budget that is so damaging to South Knoxville. The City of Knoxville and Knox County have cooperated well in recent years to promote the South Knoxville waterfront, the Civil War forts and parks, and to make Knoxville a "greener" place to live. The city this year gave generously to promote and preserve the parks and greenways. It would be terrible to lose the momentum that has been set in motion for a long-neglected part of the county.

Reducing the contributions to Ijams and Legacy Parks forces these non-profit organizations to reduce programs, perhaps reduce staff, and certainly slow down the remarkable progress that they have achieved in making Knoxville a recreation destination. These organizations are the glue that hold together efforts by many individuals and organizations to accomplish what has not been possible in the past. These organizations leverage a lot of money and effort because so many people want to make South Knoxville a better place and have visions of green trails, tourist destinations, family recreation, education on sustainability, and encouragement of healthy lifestyles.

It is too late to force these organizations to spend their time on additional fund-raising or be forced to cut staff when they are already efficient generators of economic development and pride for all of Knoxville and its visitors.

As residents of the city and county, we respectfully ask that Knox County commissioners carefully consider our request for continued support of the unique natural areas and enthusiastic efforts of the citizens of Knoxville and note our dismay at the possibility that we may lose the momentum that has just started in South Knoxville—including the proposed greenway loop, the rehabilitation of Mead's Quarry and Ross Marble property, the new recycling efforts by the city, and our organization which represents a new energy among the residents of South Knoxville.

Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, you are always welcome to visit us in South Knoxville.

The South Knoxville Neighborhood and Business Coalition

via Ann Strange, Member