Knoxville as a ‘trail town’

Sandra ClarkOur Town Outdoors

The city of Knoxville will soon “begin the process of developing a new parks and recreation master plan,” according to Parks & Rec director Sheryl Ely. “Community input will be invaluable to determining the priorities for recreational spaces and places across Knoxville.”

Ely just returned from a conference held Feb. 25-28 at Pickwick Landing State Park in Hardin County, Tennessee.

“The Tennessee RiverLine Summit provided me/attendees the opportunity to network and connect with other RiverTown communities from Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. It was great to hear how we are connected economically, how we can collaborate on finding funding opportunities and ways to promote our trail systems both on land and water,” she said.

Knox TN Today asked for an update on current Knoxville projects:

  • The East Knox Greenway continues to move forward. It will connect Harriet Tubman Park to the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
  • Six city playgrounds have been updated and substantial improvements are underway at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthy Places Morningside Park. Ely said Mayor Kincannon and neighborhood leaders will celebrate these new amenities with a cross-city tour.
  • Dog parks in Fountain City and the 4th and Gill neighborhood will open soon.

Ely said she enjoyed the summit and met some great people like Amy Camp. “We connected as we stood in line to check in at Pickwick Landing, then again for breakfast the next morning. I was impressed with the work she and her organization did around placemaking and trail creation. … There may be some other opportunities for additional trails (here) … so stay tuned!”

‘Trail Towns’

Amy Camp is a missionary and prophet for public trails. Her 2020 book, Deciding on Trails, is a call to action for dedicated individuals who want to cultivate a trail culture where they live. Camp sells the books individually or in action packs of five or 10. She is convinced that trails are regional assets that can make a difference in the communities connected, but only if the trail benefits are widely recognized.

Camp says: “I spent years dreaming of writing a book about trail towns. I conducted my first research interviews as early as 2014, but it took me until 2020 to finally write the book. Truth be told, had I written it in 2014, it would have been a very different book.”

With the Covid-19 pandemic underway, Camp’s work-related travel stopped cold.

Deciding on Trails gave me something to feel excited about throughout 2020 and something to commit myself to. It was a passion project taken on at just the right time. For those of you who see trails as something that can make a difference in your community, I hope (the book) provides you something forward-focused to think about as well.”

Camp is a consultant through Cycle Forward.


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