Knox County Commission voted unanimously Monday to reject a contract with Lamar Advertising to keep a billboard in the Tank Strickland Park in East Knoxville. Lamar wanted a 10-year contract with an automatic 10-year renewal, all at a fixed rate of $250 per month.
Law Director David Buuck confirmed that no paperwork could be found in his files and said, “In law, if it’s not written down it does not exist.”
But former city council member Nick Della Volpe, in an affidavit, and Sharon Davis both said Lamar had agreed to remove the board at the conclusion of its original contract with previous landowners.
“This Park is the heart of our community – a county park inside the city,” said Davis. She was joined by Sandra Korbelik, president of Town Hall East, and Joyce Feld, president of Scenic Knoxville, in opposition to the contract.
Commissioner Dasha Lundy thanked the community for coming out and asked her colleagues to reject the contract. She seconded Commissioner Kyle Ward’s motion to deny a new lease. After extensive discussion, the final vote was to deny a new lease and direct Mayor Glenn Jacobs to give Lamar a one-month notice to vacate the property and another 90 days to remove the sign and structure.
Commissioner Larsen Jay said he noticed a utility pole beside the billboard and he’s contacted KUB about relocating it as well. Davis said once the obstructions are removed, volunteers from Town Hall East will set about beautifying that section of the park.
Thomas “Tank” Strickland previously represented the district on Knox County Commission and is the only Black person to serve as commission chair. The Park is located next to the Burlington Branch Library on Asheville Highway at Holston Drive. Read our previous editorial here.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.