It’s all in a week’s work

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

Lot of big news in the local Parks and Recreation world.

First, Knox County crews are expected to complete the new House Mountain parking lot that will double the spaces that the Corryton park currently has. The new overflow parking lot – located less than a quarter mile from the current lot at the park’s 9601 Hogskin Road entrance – will add another 15 parking spots. The state, which leases the 500-acre park to the county, oversaw the expansion and grading work on the lot last month. County crews last week then began hauling and spreading the road. The project is expected to cost Knox County less than $3,000.

“This will really help with our parking issue,” said Chuck James, director of parks for Knox County. “Right now, we have folks parking on all sides of Hogskin Road, so this new lot should help alleviate that problem.”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have flocked to House Mountain to enjoy its almost six miles of natural looping trails or check out the overlook and views from the Mountain’s 2,100-foot crest. The mountain is known for its heavily wooded terrain and impressive rock outcrops. At the top, visitors can see the parallel ranges of the Unakas and the Cumberlands – each roughly 30 miles away. House Mountain, which includes a picnic area, shelter and restrooms, is also a favorite place for birdwatchers.

“People always say that Knox County is the gateway to the Smoky Mountains,” said Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. “But a lot of people don’t realize what incredible hiking we have right here in our own community. It’s great that access to this park has been expanded so that more people can access it safely.”

Also, we have crews out west, installing a series of emergency response locator signs that will encompass the entire Concord Park trail system. The work piggybacks off a local Eagle Scout Service Project conducted in early October by Boy Scout Harrison Masters, and will be the first of its kind in Knox County. Masters, working with the Parks and Recreation Department, Rural Metro and E-911, placed the initial round of markers on the east side of Concord Park. Similar systems are used nationwide and are designed to help emergency responders more quickly identify those who might need medical assistance on the trail. The signs also help trail users identify just where they are.

In October, Masters said he hoped his project would inspire others to adopt similar emergency plans across the county. Mayor Jacobs accepted the challenge, and said the county would be happy to participate.

As it stands, the crews will install 25 signs – each a quarter mile apart – along Concord Park’s west trail; the trails closest to the Cove; the trails between Carl Cowan and Admiral Farragut parks; and trails at Keller Bend Park. Next year, work will extend to the county’s other trail systems, including those at House Mountain and I.C. King Park, for example.

And, another crew continues to work on the new dock at Cherokee Park – across from the Cove. This week, our carpenters began installing the poles. They should wrap up that by Friday and start on the flooring early next week.

Also, we had a crew out early Thursday morning repairing street lights at New Harvest Park.

Our Engineering and Public Works Department also has been busy. Here’s a snapshot of some of their projects this past week:

  • Garland Road – Embankment grading to improve poor sight distance.
  • Hall Road – Installation of cross drainpipe replacement.
  • Crenshaw Road – Installation of side drainpipe replacement and ditch maintenance.

The photo carousel features the crews at work for Knox County.

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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