Halls Business and Professional Association president Michelle Wilson stands with Steve Petrone of Marco's Pizza and Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance at the corner of Afton Drive and Maynardville Highway, where winding-down construction may make a perfect opportunity for beautification. Photo by Shannon Carey

If you live in or drive through Halls Crossroads, you are familiar with road construction, along with all the headaches and eye-aches it brings. Orange pylons, orange traffic signs, heavy equipment, all conspire these days to make Halls a place to get through, not a place to enjoy.

But what some Halls business people are calling “the long nightmare” is coming to an end as construction on Maynardville Highway and the Norris Freeway intersection winds down. And some forward-thinkers are taking this opportunity to make Halls a place to enjoy again.

Michelle Wilson is president of the Halls Business and Professional Association, and she said the club’s board targeted beautification as one of the Halls Ahead initiatives last year. That led them to two programs getting off the ground this summer. One is an individual beautification contest, and the other is a landscaping effort in the wake of years of construction.

For the contest, everyone in Halls is invited to complete a beautification on their homes or businesses this summer and submit a photo and description to Wilson at bwilson8443@comcast.net by July 31, 2017. The board will judge the entrants and award prizes at the August 15 membership meeting.

“Our ideas were for people to do a painting project, maybe add a decorative element or do a planting,” said Wilson. “The ordinary acts of many become extraordinary acts.”

And then came the landscaping idea. Steve Petrone, who owns and operates Marco’s Pizza in Halls, came to the HBPA board with a proposal. At the intersection of Afton Drive and Maynardville Highway, the old roadbed and bridge are slated to become parking and entry to the new greenway that will connect Halls Marsh greenway with Clayton Park.

Petrone proposed planting that intersection with red knockout roses and other landscaping elements, a project that could spread throughout the community. Ben Johnson of Bob Johnson Insurance, whose business is nearby on Afton Drive, got on board as well.

Wilson said the project is perfect for the HBPA. She recalled visiting a North Carolina town in which business owners set out similar seasonal plants and decorations and said Halls lacks a “profound marker” when entering and leaving.

“I knew when I was in that community and when I was leaving that community,” she said. “As people are entering our community it can help establish our identity.”

There will be a lot of hurdles to the plan. The group needs to get TDOT approval for the project. They need community support and input from a landscape designer.

But one thing’s for sure. Landscaping will be a welcome change from orange pylons and fresh asphalt.

“The HBPA exists to enhance the community so our business owners and residents can maintain healthy businesses and property values and a good sense of community. Without action-oriented activities it’s all just words,” Wilson said. “I’m glad to see business owners that really care about making change.”

Written by Shannon Carey
Fountain City shannon.b.carey@gmail.com 865-235-5324