The new and improved I.C. King Park is officially open.
Dog owners who live near the park and have been using it frequently must feel relieved (as did their pooches when they used it).
After remarks and congratulations Thursday morning, Mayor Glenn Jacobs and other officials cut the ribbon on the park at 2625 Maryville Pike. In addition to the grownups, students from nearby Mount Olive Elementary School attended the ceremony and seemed to be the most excited constituency present.
The kids swarmed over the new play facility and cuddled some of the canines also there for the festivities.
Moving the park’s main entrance from Alcoa Highway to Maryville Pike has met with approval from most South Knox County residents. With construction on Alcoa Highway, the entrance was not a welcoming one.
The addition by PetSafe of two dog parks at the site – one for under-30-pound dogs and one for over-30-pound dogs – is a big draw for the new county park.
Funding for the park came in large part from a local Parks and Recreation Fund Grant administered by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Recreation Educational Services Division.
In addition to the playground, the human park has a picnic pavilion, restrooms and a trail that connects to the existing I.C. King trail system, which reportedly includes splendid views (this reporter did not investigate). The dog park has its own water fountain.
The 40-vehicle parking area was overflowing for the ribbon cutting and is likely to stay busy as that section of Maryville Pike is not pedestrian or dog friendly. The county did move the original entrance a few feet south to provide better sight lines for motorists and also created a turn lane.
Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation, was one of the speakers at the event and gave statistics on how parks rank high on the list of desirable neighborhood attributes for home buyers. She also said parks play a significant role at reducing obesity and generally increasing health in a community.
Betsy Pickle is a freelance writer and editor who particularly enjoys spotlighting South Knoxville.