Aslan boosts awesome entrance to Fort Dickerson

Betsy PickleSouth Knox

While the federal government is still quibbling over building one wall, the city of Knoxville just cut the ribbon on two walls welcoming people to a South Knoxville landmark.

Mayor Madeline Rogero led the official ribbon-cutting celebration Wednesday morning at the Chapman Highway entrance to Fort Dickerson Park, where a new three-story stone-faced wall overlooks a new driveway and a seating-height circular stone wall surrounding a round field the size of a baseball diamond, an oasis just off the busy highway.

Rogero noted that the seed of the project came from Alan Miller, former co-owner of the Disc Exchange, about 10 years ago, when she was just starting her job as community-development director for the city. She joked about the “hot second” it took to bring the project to fruition.

Both Rogero and Joe Walsh, the city’s Parks & Recreation director, expressed deep gratitude to the Aslan Foundation, which provided more than three-fifths of the funding for the Fort Dickerson makeover.

“The Aslan Foundation invested about $1.6 million in this project from start to finish,” said Rogero. “And combined with our road-realignment project (Woodlawn Pike-Fort Dickerson Drive) we’re at about $2.6 million on this.”

In addition to the driveway and walls, the new entrance includes railed steps from the recreation circle to the parking area near the quarry overlook, an accessible sidewalk, twin stone pillars at Chapman Highway, landscaping and a new bus shelter for Route 41.

Previously, the drive to the overlook and picnic area was hard to find and somewhat dangerous. Rogero and Walsh mentioned that the Augusta Avenue entrance to the park is also due for an upgrade, giving the 85-acre park a whole new life.

Rogero and Walsh also thanked the Civil War Roundtable, the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club, South Knoxville’s neighborhood associations and the city engineering department for their contributions to the project. Rogero specifically thanked Aslan Foundation board president Bob Young and directors Jim and Lindsay McDonough.

New Aslan executive director Andrea Bailey Cox thanked Rogero, Walsh, city staff, City Council, architect Mark Foster Gage, landscape architects Carol R. Johnson and Associates and Hickory Construction.

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