editorial (2007-48)

Downtowners Gaining Amenities


A recycling center and a proposed dog park are welcome urban upgrades

A new recycling center to serve downtown residents and businesses is set to open next month through a cooperative effort of the city of Knoxville and Knox County.

The center, on the southwest corner of the underused parking area owned by the county at 401 State Street, will offer a full range of recycling opportunities and will be managed by the cityâ’s Solid Waste Division. Mayors Bill Haslam of the city and Mike Ragsdale of the county, who said the city is leasing the site at no cost, made the announcement last week. They projected that the facility will be in operation by the middle of next month.

In somewhat the same vein, Mayor Haslam was talking the week before about making Knoxville â“the dog-friendliest city in this countryâ” by opening a dog park in vacant green space at the southeast corner of Summit Hill Drive and Central Avenue, next to the James White Parkway right of way.

Citizens were invited to a public meeting this week in the Emporium Building to discuss development of the dog park, which will be another boon to downtown residents. The surge in residential redevelopment of downtown properties has led to an influx of dogs, and their owners have no close-by area to exercise them in, so we expect that the Wednesday evening hearing, which took place as we went to press, provided positive reinforcement for the proposal.

Taken together, the recycling center and the dog park proposal are gratifying evidence that the city administration, with the countyâ’s help as needed, is committed to providing continuing upgrades to the downtownâ’s infrastructure and amenities. Thatâ’s great to recognize, when one considers how much emphasis is being put on the South Knoxville waterfront and the Broadway Central Corridor, and how much the city is puzzling over making a lasting contribution to the Five Points area.

The recycling center will house bins for paper and cardboard, recyclable plastics, aluminum, steel cans, glass and household batteries, all products accepted at the cityâ’s eight other recycling centers. The Broadway Shopping Center lot near the Kroger has been the closest center for downtown recyclers. Hazardous materials will still be recycled at the countyâ’s Baxter Avenue recycling center.

(Also included at the downtown center will be a Goodwill trailer and donation collection box, staffed by an attendant. The cityâ’s other neighborhood recycling centers are at the 5003 Broadway Kroger, the 5425 Clinton Highway Kroger, the 4440 Western Avenue Kroger, the 4918 Kingston Pike Kroger, the 225 W. Moody Avenue Goodwill, the corner of Magnolia Avenue and Alice Street across from Chilhowee Park, and 341 Parkvillage Road.)

Under terms of the city-county agreement, the city will lease the downtown center site for two years, with additional two-year extensions possible, with regular short- and long-term parking available on the rest of the sprawling State Street property, first developed for parking five years ago but seldom filled.

The agreement has been approved by both the Knox County Commission and Knoxville City Council. Mayor Haslam told the Council that the growing downtown demand for a convenient recycling opportunity led to the discussions with the county, and Mayor Ragsdale said the county was glad to see the site used to better serve the downtown.

The dog park, which has yet to be named, will be designed to allow for a fenced-in area where dogs can be taken off leash to exercise and play. It will be maintained by the cityâ’s Parks & Recreation Division, and its amenities will be subject to pet ownersâ’ requests, as those proposals are deemed feasible for the property the city has in mind.

Who Works for Whom?

The latest proposition before the Knox County Ethics Committee is one to ban county employees from serving on County Commission. Commissioner Mike Hammond, a member of the committee, put the idea into a formal proposal, to be discussed at the committeeâ’s December meeting and sent to Commission for approval in January, before it is placed on the August general election ballot as a referendum item.

We have been advocating such a prohibition for a long time, having seen how many commissioners double dip in what is obviously a conflict of interest. We hope the full Commission approves the referendum measure. Weâ’re confident voters will endorse it.


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