Tuesday evening, Knoxville City Council will vote on the recommendation by Mayor Indya Kincannon’s administration that the city accept the Lions Club’s offer to donate Fountain City Park and Lake. As reported here and here by KnoxTNToday.com, the negotiations have been underway for some time.
“Citywide, generations of families have cherished Fountain City Park,” Mayor Kincannon said said in a press statement. “For five decades, children have been swinging on the playground swings, and families have enjoyed the ducks and picnicked in the gazebo.
“We appreciate how the Fountain City Lions Club has lovingly cared for the park for so many years. Maintaining these 8 acres has become increasingly expensive, especially managing the lake. So when the Lions asked us for assistance, without hesitation, we told them, ‘We’re here to help.’ We’re committed to making sure Fountain City Park remains a joyful gathering place for many generations to come.”
The Lions Club will retain their main building in the park and sponsor several annual events on the property.
The city has committed more than $1 million to improve the water quality of Fountain City Lake and to improve amenities in the park.
The 2021-22 city budget includes $250,000 to improve the playground, including bringing it up to Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards. New funding also will improve the walking path through the park.
Separately, the city has invested more than $750,000 over the past seven years to restore the ecosystem at Fountain City Lake. There were major water-quality problems, caused by stagnant water, thick algae, invasive weeds and too many waterfowl.
Since 2014, the city has taken a series of restoration steps, including fixing a leak in the lake’s earthen berm so that the lake’s water levels could be managed, and repairing the fountain and pump house to aerate the water.
Wetlands were planted to remove shallow, stagnant areas that were conducive to algae growth. Thick layers of muck and duck feces, algae and invasive plants have also been removed from the lake.
It’s a work in progress that requires constant monitoring and adjustments, but significant improvements have been made – so much so that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has introduced winter trout fishing at Fountain City Lake. The state would not have been able to do that had the lake been as choked by algae and invasive species as it was just a few years ago.
“If the city council is agreeable to accepting the Lions Club’s generous offer, we look forward to bringing Fountain City Park into the city’s system as our 93rd park,” said Parks and Recreation Director Sheryl Ely. “We’ll do the Lions proud by continuing what they lovingly started more than 50 years ago.”