Work goes on despite weather, short week

Mike DonilaFun Outdoors

It might have been a short week (due to the Good Friday holiday) and the weather handcuffed us a bit, but the Knox County Parks and Recreation Department and the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department were out there and doing awesome – as always!

Let me start off with saying the folks in E&PW were absolutely amazing this past weekend and all this week, controlling the flooding and making sure roads remained passable.

Here’s just one major example. After the rain stopped on Sunday, E&PW Director Jim Snowden and his crews were down on Northshore Drive, checking key points and elevation levels. They brought in a number of pumps and went to work.

“If you look at the water level now and compare it to Sunday, it’s about the same, so if we hadn’t pumped, there would have been issues and impacts,” Snowden said.

His crews worked tirelessly this week and will continue to do so.

Nearby Bluegrass Lake covers 3,882 acres, and they stopped thousands and thousands of gallons of water from filling it, thus preventing the flooding of commercial and residential structures. If not, the Blue Grass Lake water level would have risen quickly, closing Keller Bend and Northshore.

“This rain would correlate to 37 million gallons of drainage to the lake,” Snowden said. “So far, we’ve pumped about 8.5 million gallons, working on volume of water the pipe has carried. The culvert has conveyed 25 million gallons, for a total of 33 million gallons, which speaks to the same water level in the pictures.”

The county experiences 2.34 inches of total rainfall last Saturday and Sunday and we have another 2-3 inches anticipated. They’ll be out there working hard, so a big shout out to those crews!

The Parks and Recreation Department also did great this week. Our carpenters were back at Melton Hill Park, working on the dock. We need to order a gangway, which will take some time to build, so it should be finished in about two weeks. When I asked Director of Parks Chuck James how old the original dock was, he said: “I’ve been here for 30 years and it was here before I was.”

Also, the lights are now on at East Knox Park and the wiring at Gibbs Park is now complete. We’re just waiting on KUB to perform an inspection and then hook up the meter, so those lights should be on early next week, barring any more weather issues.

We also completed the playground surface installation at the SportsPark in Karns, so that’s open again. We will resurface more playgrounds in the coming weeks, including French Park and Maloney Road Park, both which currently have mulch surface rather than the rubber surfaces, which are better.

We’re also looking to do Tank Strickland Park and Mascot Park soon. Usually, we resurface two playgrounds a year, but Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs encouraged us to do more and set aside the money to do so!

“This will be a record for us,” James said.

In addition, we removed a tree from Solway Park, where some folks are renting the field for baseball and softball practice.

And, the folks over at John Tarleton Park have been weed eating the heck out of the place and working on equipment repairs, including the complete overall of a Toro and two trailers, fixing the flooring and lights.

Also, I can’t forget: Crews are working behind the scenes, performing maintenance and fixing the tanks on the county’s splashpads, so they’ll be up and running for May!

On the recreation side, the “new” Knox County Youth Recreation Softball program started practicing with games beginning April 9 at Nichols/Ball Camp Park. They run from April 9 through May 16. The ages are 5 through 14. Registration is closed.

Here’s a snapshot of some more work done by the E&PW crews:

  • Mine Road – Debris removal at bridge pier
  • Woodhollow Lane – Stormwater culvert installation
  • Roberts Road – Slope failure as a result of recent heavy rains

Enjoy this photo carousel of projects across the county:

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government


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