Mayor Madeline Rogero on Wednesday introduced the City’s new Greenways Service Crew, which will build two new miles of greenway per year while also addressing ongoing maintenance of the City’s nearly 100-mile network of greenways and trails.
“With the Greenways Feasibility Study, we now have a plan to connect greenways throughout Knoxville. This new crew will expedite our progress in linking more neighborhoods into our greenways network,” said Mayor Rogero. “Additionally, this crew means that we have a rapid response team to address maintenance calls reported to 311 by greenway users.”
[tweetthis]MAYOR ANNOUNCES ‘#RAPIDRESPONSE’ #GREENWAYS SERVICE CREW[/tweetthis]
The five-person service crew will hit the greenways daily, armed with a small fleet of new equipment, including an off-road truck, a wood chipper, a smaller greenway-sized dump truck that will be able to release mulch on either side, an ATV, and a skid steer. The crew even has two mountain bikes that will assist in quickly accessing the more remote parts of the greenways system. The equipment cost about $135,000.
The creation of the new in-house Greenways Service Crew will speed up the City’s response to maintenance requests from residents through the City’s 311 Call Center. Dedicating a crew to focus solely on greenways also will accelerate construction of new trails at a key time.
Last summer, City officials unveiled a detailed plan for strategically adding 24 miles of connected greenways in 13 different corridors. The Greenway Corridor Feasibility Study is a blueprint for the most comprehensive greenways build-out in the City’s history. The City currently has $3 million in capital funding marked for greenway construction.
“Basically, we now have a crew waking up every day thinking specifically about greenways – how to improve greenways as a daily service to Knoxville residents,” said Chad Weth, Public Service Director. “We’re also looking forward to assisting Parks and Recreation as they expand the greenway system.”
The announcement was made Wednesday at the corner of Martin Mill Pike and Ogle Avenue, which will soon be the end point for the 0.7-mile Mary Vestal Greenway extension. The Greenways Service Crew began work on the extension earlier this month. The segment will take advantage of a closed street adjacent to Vestal United Methodist Church and connect to the existing greenway in Mary Vestal Park, forming a combined total of a 1.1-mile greenway.
Joe Walsh, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director, said this connection will eventually link to Fort Dickerson Park and the Urban Wilderness trail system, as outlined in the Greenways Feasibility Study.
“We’re excited to have the Greenways Service Crew to maintain and build greenways in-house,” Walsh said. “This gives us the ability to pursue our plan of a citywide connected greenway network.”
Officials stipulated at Wednesday’s announcement that while the goal will be to build two miles in-house per year through the new Greenways Service Crew, a large resurfacing project of an existing greenway could occasionally affect that number.
The new crew will supplement an innovative contract the City has in place with the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club to maintain all trails in the Urban Wilderness.
Officials also celebrated the completion of the Vestal Gateway Arch on Wednesday, which will serve as a portal to the Mary Vestal Greenway once the extension is completed.
The arch project was organized by the City of Knoxville, the Aslan Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Knox County Health Department, Great Schools Partnership, the East Tennessee Community Design Center, Knoxville’s Community Development Corp. and the Vestal Community Organization. The project was partially funded through a “Creative Placemaking Grant” awarded by the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Gene Burr and Mallia Engineering designed the arch, which would have cost an estimated $30,000 were it not for a long list of local community members donating time, labor and materials. The Vestal Community Organization also plans to build a plaza and pavilion adjacent to the arch and greenway in the near future.
“This arch is a great example of how greenways inspire pride and community involvement within neighborhoods, and likewise, how neighborhoods bring character to greenways,” said Mayor Rogero.
The Greenways Service Crew is the most recent reorganization effort to enhance service on City greenways. In 2012, Mayor Rogero and Police Chief David Rausch announced the Knoxville Police Department’s Parks and Greenways Patrol unit, a team of eight officers that systematically surveys all parks and greenways within the City.
For more information on City greenways, please visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/greenways.