Parks & Rec funding up in city budget

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposed 2023-24 budget includes nearly $9.5 million in Parks and Recreation Department operational funding, plus $3.1 million in capital funding for major upgrades at Lakeshore Park and the Williams Creek Golf Course and to kickstart work on a new community park in Lonsdale.

Kincannon doesn’t just fund parks, but she actually enjoys them. Shown here with Romeo at Sunflower Festival site

Kincannon said enhancing parks and improving access to recreational opportunities is “absolutely critical to building up and strengthening neighborhoods.”

Kincannon is seeking her second (and final) term as mayor, and has drawn four opponents: Jeff Talman, Constance M. Every, R. C. Lawhorn and Burak Er. The full list of city candidates is here.

The increased capital budget will be spent for:

Central city: Demolition of Sam E. Hill School, retaining the gymnasium, and design work for a community park. Parks and Recreation Director Sheryl Ely said, “We’re working on a design that includes features that the community has asked for. Right now, the goal is to build a playground, an outdoor fitness station, a basketball court and a community event lawn. There would be a multi-use trail, picnic tables and a multi-purpose community room with restrooms. See preliminary design plans here.

West Knoxville: Kincannon also is proposing another $2 million in capital funds for Lakeshore Park  The city is supporting the Lakeshore Park Conservancy’s $42 million project, underway since last year, that is adding baseball fields, pavilions, a new playground and other amenities. The city has committed funding to improve the park’s roads and add parking.

East Knoxville: At the Williams Creek Golf Course, the city is investing $300,000 over three years to fund improvements to the golf course cart paths, building, driving range netting and other infrastructure. The $100,000 in this budget would be the second installment.

Operations: To fund day-to-day Parks & Rec operations, Kincannon is proposing a budget of close to $9.5 million – a 6.7 percent increase from the current budget, or an additional $594,380. Roughly half of the $9.5 million is for salaries and benefits. More than $1 million is earmarked for utilities costs.

Kincannon’s proposed budget, which does not include a tax increase, was approved by Knoxville City Council on the first of two readings on May 2, followed by a legislative budget hearing and public hearing on May 9. Council’s second and final vote on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday, May 30. See complete budget documents here.

City of Knoxville provided information for this report.


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