Knox County’s Harrell Road Park was awarded the 2018 Environmental-Conservation Award by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, a non-profit organization that recognizes and honors parks throughout the nation.
Officials received the award Sunday night in Nashville where the organization held its summer meeting.
The first-place “award of excellence” is presented to parks that recognize an “exceptional effort to acquire, restore, preserve, operate or develop unique or significant conservation and natural areas or programs.”
“This is not only a beautiful area but the park also helps the environment,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. “It was designed to capture and slow down runoff and to greatly reduce flooding in the area.”
Doug Bataille, senior director of the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department, said: “We are proud of the partnerships between Knox County Parks, Knox County Engineering and Public Works and the Legacy Parks Foundation that created this unique park and earned this recognition.”
Bordered by Beaver Creek and a large residential development, Harrell Road Park takes in stormwater pollutants entering the creek, increases stormwater infiltration, replenishes groundwater stores and alleviates localized flooding.
The park, a converted derelict tract, features a rain garden, vegetated stormwater ponds, riparian buffers and a permeable parking lot that allows water to be absorbed back into the earth. The county also built a kayak/canoe launch that connects the park to the Beaver Creek Water Trail, and installed interpretative signs along the three-quarter mile walking trail that explain the various green practices in the park.
The 19-acre site was donated to Knox County by the non-profit Legacy Parks Foundation in 2008. A number of public and private partnerships then joined to rehab what was once an exposed clay soil mining area.
The park, which opened in May 2017, is the only one of its kind owned by Knox County.