Parks and Rec is hiring part-time

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

This year’s Holiday Festival of Lights at the Cove at Concord Park turned out to be quite the success, raising $7,272.25, and enough non-perishable food items to fill roughly 11.5 large barrels.

The family-friendly event was free and open to the public though visitors were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or monetary donations. The donations will be turned over to The Love Kitchen, which provides meals, clothing, and emergency food packages for the homebound, homeless, and unemployed. We plan to drop the food and a check off at the non-profit on Feb. 8 but are still ironing out the details.

We had a good meeting with the great folks over at Nourish Knoxville and plan to re-sign our contract with them to manage the New Harvest Park Farmers Market, which is expected to kick off in mid-April and run through most or all of September. They do a great job and save us a ton of money on staffing. We also are working with the non-profit to host bigger events again, like the annual Blueberry Festival. The past few years have done well but the Covid pandemic has certainly held us back. We hope that changes this year!

In other news, we have about half a dozen folks training over at UT, taking general maintenance courses, like trimming trees and maintaining turf grass.

Our one-man machine Frank Christian is going around some parks, installing cameras.

Fence repairs

Last week, I noted that we were looking at installing posts and cables along the new Calloway Ridge Trailhead and greenway. The trailhead as you might recall was opened last May. It’s just west of the Northshore Drive roundabout and accessible for runners and mountain bikes. It’s part of the larger Northshore Safety, Wellness & Connectivity Project that will ultimately connect two dangerous stretches of Northshore Drive. Instead of the posts and cables, we’re going to install six gates, which our carpenters are working on now. The price dropped from $12,000 (posts and cables) to about $4,500 (gates).

As always, we have crews working on brush cleanup and general maintenance. We’re also waiting on the supplies to come in for the new Beverly Dog Park.

“All the gates and fences are ordered and we’re just waiting on them,” said Jason Halliburton, who is over maintenance. “When the area dries, we’ll go in and dig and place the concrete. We have a lot of stuff going on, but we just need the weather to cooperate with us to do it.”

Gate repairs back at the shop

We still have signs with QR codes to take our Parks survey that are available at several county parks. Another option is to complete the survey here. The information collected from the survey will be turned over to Kimley-Horn, a planning and design engineering firm, to help put together a Comprehensive Land Use and Transportation plan for the county and a specific Master Plan for Parks and Recreation. Also, during this time, the firm will evaluate the county’s existing parks and their conditions while also conducting a demographic analysis and staffing assessment.

As it stands, the county should have a completed Parks master plan by September 2022. Counties need a master plan that is current within five years to accept some state and federal grants. A plan also helps the county from both a budgetary and development standpoint for the overall parks system. The department’s plan is currently 11-years-old.

On the recreation side, youth lacrosse will crank up on Monday at John Tarleton Park and then at Tommy Schumpert Park in mid-February. Youth soccer starts at Tommy Schumpert Park on Jan. 31.

We also are beginning to schedule tournaments at the Sportspark in Karns and those will kick off the first weekend in March. We are currently working on dates for adult softball and the home run derby event for the spring.

In addition, we are hiring part-time employees, so if you’re interested, you can reach us at 865-215-6600.

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government

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