This week, a couple of events showcase nicely the yin and yang of a city in transition: urban planning and gentrification on the one hand, and parks and pistols on (and in) the other.
First, the urban planning. Attempting to build on the success of revitalization of Gay Street and the Old City, the City of Knoxville will present its plan for renewing the area just north of downtown to residents and business owners interested in adding their own two cents. Director of Redevelopment Bob Whetsel says he wants the area to become more than just a thoroughfare to other parts of the city, converting it into a mixed-use zone, sporting a semi-permeable membrane (bars, shops, restaurants, etc.) that's pedestrian and bike-friendly. The public forum will be held at St. John's Lutheran Church on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
Second, the guns. On Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. the City Council will go bobbing for headlines when it votes on whether to repeal a 47-year-old ordinance banning the legal carry of firearms in city parks. The catalyst for this vote is the state senate's passage earlier this year of a law that allows guns in parks of cities or counties that did not ban them before 1986. (Apparently, something drastically changed in human nature and/or park recreation that year.) Since the city did have a law, it was unaffected; meanwhile permit-holders can now carry in Knox County parks, leaving picnickers with another item to remember for their wicker basket: a city map. The city will decide whether to follow suit, allowing for less confusion and more (legal) guns. Voice your support or opposition at the City County Building, 400 Main Street.