Longtime Parkridge resident Keith Richardson says he’s optimistic that his neighborhood has turned the corner.
“I hope so.” He said. “We’ve got a ways to go but I feel much better about the place.”
Richardson is referring to the dispute over expanding the neighborhood’s H-1 historic overlay that was on its way to a contentious City Council vote until Mayor Madeline Rogero put it on hold in November, citing “the continued level of distrust and disagreement among different factions in the Parkridge neighborhood on the value and benefits of the proposed H-1 expansion.”
Rogero’s hitting the pause button eased tensions around issues of gentrification and affordable housing, at least temporarily. And at about the same time, the Parkridge Community Organization postponed its annual board elections until questions about charter issues were resolved.
The new board, chaired by Lynne Randazzo, had its first meeting Monday.
Richardson, a now-retired career urban housing specialist who has lived there since before the neighborhood adopted its name (which pays respect to the old neighborhoods of Park City and Chestnut Ridge), said he believes the new board is representative of the people who live there.
The motto on its website is “At home with diversity.”
Randazzo, who is has lived in the neighborhood for three years, said she would not have run for the position had she not been nominated, and that her priority is to keep community involvement high.
“Last year’s controversy increased our attendance dramatically. It’s not the way I would have liked to increase it, but we’d like to keep people coming. We’re kind of starting from scratch again, and the city’s wanting to help facilitate mediation, so people can discuss what they love about the neighborhood and what they want to protect, and then see if there’s common ground.”
Parkridge is an urban neighborhood with a variety of homes ranging in style from Queen Anne Victorians to Arts and Crafts Bungalows. The houses are close together, with sidewalks connecting its residences to major roadways and businesses. The neighborhood is less than two miles from downtown Knoxville.
Parkridge is a racially diverse neighborhood. There are 1,800 residences with 2,774 people living within Parkridge. There are nine churches and six non-profit organizations based within the neighborhood. Parkridge has gained notoriety for having the largest concentration of George Barber homes in the nation, according to Wikipedia.