Fountain City institutions deeded to city

Beth KinnaneOur Town Leaders

This morning the Fountain City Lions Club executed the final handoff of the park and lake it has maintained for over 70 years to the city of Knoxville. With the passing of a ceremonial key, Fountain City Park and Fountain City Lake are now officially and finally deeded over to the city.

The work to make this transition happen has been ongoing for several years. Opening remarks were made by District 4 city council member Lauren Rider, who specifically thanked the city’s law and public works departments as well as Parks and Recreation Director Sheryl Ely for bringing it to fruition.

“I’m really excited about this partnership and what’s going to come next” Rider said, “I’ve been talking to a lot of people in the community, and they are very excited as well. This is great news. Looking forward to hundreds of more years of this park.”

Rider turned the podium over to Lions president Dan Rhea, who noted that the club will maintain the use of its building on the park grounds as well as the right to use the park for Honor Fountain City Day and its Concerts in the Park series (see Knox TN Today’s lead up story with Rhea here). Rhea explained that he was there on behalf of both the Lions Club and the Fountain City Park Company, the latter holding the actual deeds to both the park and the lake. He added that the relationship between the club and the park company began in the 1940s, with club members volunteering to help maintain both properties.

But as time went on, the expenses of upkeep of both properties became more than the Lions could do on their own.

“The Lions Club couldn’t have done it that last 20 or 30 years without the city’s and state’s assistance.” Rhea said, adding that the Lions aren’t going anywhere, will continue their community service projects and supporting Central High School as well as Boy and Girl Scouts. “We intend to stick around for a while. But with a lot of pleasure, and some regret” the key was handed over to Mayor Indya Kincannon, and the era of the Lions Club maintaining these Fountain City mainstays came to an end.

Kincannon came to the podium and immediately thanked the Lions Club for its long stewardship of the properties. She said the park was the favorite of her own daughters, and how much they loved playing in the creek. She announced immediate plans for improvements to the park, including ADA upgrades to the playground and the walkway. Portions of the park will be closed through the end of August.

“We are glad to help; we are going to continue the good stewardship that you started over the past 80 years,” she said. “The city of Knoxville, we have the financial resources and lots of enthusiastic service minded employees … that have already started maintaining the park … We’re committed to making sure Fountain City Park remains a joyful gathering place for many generations to come.”

The festivities were also attended state senators Dr. Richard Briggs and Becky Massey as well as city council member Charles Thomas.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for KnoxTNToday.com

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