Flotilla extension delayed, vandals wreaking havoc

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

Our crews and some outside contract help are working hard inside Beaver Creek, cutting and removing logs and trash, but we’re not quite sure we’ll be able to clear enough in time so that the annual Powell flotilla can have a longer route. Now don’t get me wrong, the community still plans to host the event on Aug. 14, but we were really hoping to clear out an additional 2-mile stretch before then in order to double the enjoyment for the participants. As it stands right now, however, it’s “a soft no” on whether we can complete it in time.

“It’s not for lack of effort, I promise,” said Jason Halliburton, maintenance superintendent for the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department. “Really it’s lack of manpower right now. I know that sounds bad because we have our crews, and contractors and pretty much everything we can throw at it, but there’s just a lot of work to be done out there.”

For those who don’t know, the Knox County Water Trail is a 44-mile stretch of navigable water that runs through five communities between Clayton Park in Halls and Melton Hill in Hardin Valley. A key part of it is a 2-mile piece that runs from Powell High School to the Weigel’s store at 7505 Clinton Highway. Each year the community hosts an annual flotilla that sees more than 100 kayaks, canoes and paddleboarders make their way down the stream. The event is designed to showcase the creek and its designation as a water trail.

A number of us in the Mayor’s Office, the Parks and Recreation Department and Commission Chair Larsen Jay met awhile back to talk about the annual event and at the time, we thought it might be possible to extend the flotilla route all the way down to Roy Arthur Stormwater Park off Harrell Road. That would add an additional 2.45 miles to the journey.

Unfortunately, there are too many major blockages that are eating up the completion time. That said, we will have the stretch finished this year.

“It’s all still up in the air and there’s a possibility we can get it done before the flotilla but it’s hard to say,” Halliburton added. “But it will definitely be good for the next one.”

Last weekend, we held our Second Saturday Concert Series, and the series so far have been well-attended. There was a 30-minute delay at The Cove, but guests were rewarded with a beautiful rainbow once the rain stopped. The final concerts are set for Aug. 14 with Leftfoot Dave and the Magic Hats at The Cove and Davis Mitchell at Clayton Park. As always, the concerts run from 6-8 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

We’ve had a go at it this year with our three splash pads. Unfortunately, they’re getting older and it’s starting to show. Plus, it doesn’t help that many parts and supplies are on backorder due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest casualty is the splash pad at Carl Cowan Park. It will probably be down for a couple of weeks.

Now, it’s not all gloom and doom. We recognize that the splash pads have been an issue, so we plan to keep them up through the season and then – during the fall and winter – invest heavily into overhauling them!

In other Parks and Recreation news, our carpenters spent some time repairing the fishing pier at Concord Park and installing a new roof at the maintenance building there. The carpenters also poured concrete at Ball Camp Park as our crews began building “soft toss” batting cages out there.

As always, the one-man machine Frank Christian has been overseeing new signage and pressure washing throughout the parks system. Here’s an email he sent that touches on his humor:

“Pressure washing tables and shelters at Hickory Creek, Guinn Road, Solway Parks. Weed spraying at Corryton, Alcoaway, Carter, Walker Springs playgrounds. Sign work at Maloney and Farragut baseball. Plus, mowed House Mountain and Cruze Landing parks. Drove dump truck half a day, also. Just the boring stuff nobody cares about, lol, but it’s only Thursday morning, maybe some good pictures on Friday, not sure what I’ll get into yet.”

Additionally, the mowing crews have been “mowing and going” as Jason Halliburton likes to say. And, our electrician has been chasing down electrical issues at the SportsPark (irrigation problems), the Powell Greenway (lighting) and Carter Park (general maintenance). Also, we’re spraying the fields for weeds at Schumpert and Tarleton parks.

Our plumbers are at it as well. We’ve had a rash of knuckleheads hitting the restrooms and tossing firecrackers into the toilets. This isn’t funny. Each one of them – they are commercial grade and ADA approved – costs at least $200 to replace.

Also, some jack-leg tore up the field that runs alongside the Halls Greenway. If anyone has any information about it, please contact the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 865-215-2243 or the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department at 865-215-6600.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the great work over at the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department.

Here’s a snapshot:

  • Schaad Road – Construction of box culvert for the Schaad Road extension
  • Schaad Road – Construction of new stream mitigation for same
  • Grassy Creek Development – Construction of new cantilever retaining wall for Grassy Creek project partnership with developer associated with the Schaad Road Extension project
  • Grassy Creek Development – Construction of new stormwater pipe for Grassy Creek project partnership with developer associated with the Schaad Road Extension project
  • Woodhollow Lane – Paving excavation ditch for stormwater pipe installation (progress photos for on-going project)

Enjoy this carousel of photos from this week’s projects.

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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