Chattanooga & Erlanger Move to Save Lincoln Park

Reported by: Bill Mitchell

Edited by: Ashley Henderson
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Updated: 8/23/2013 6:35 pm
CHATTANOOGA,TN (WDEF) -- From the 1930s through the 50s Lincoln Park was one of the few public facilities that allowed black people.
The little park behind Erlanger Hospital stands in the path of a Central Avenue expansion, but as of Friday it's no longer in danger.
City leaders cut a deal to save the historic landmark.

Years ago, Lincoln Park was not just a place to play ball or go swimming---it was the center of recreation for thousands of African-Americans who were not allowed to play or picnic in Warner Park.
What happened Friday morning was a victory for those who fondly remember the park during those days.
There are only 5 acres left here in what was Lincoln Park.
The swimming pool, baseball diamond and playground were used for other purposes after the land was given to Erlanger more than 20 years ago.

NAPOLEON WILLIAMS, LINCOLN PARK SUPPORTER "People all over the city, west side, northside, east side you'd come here to have a good time....used to have all of the picnics out here.'

The neighborhood still carries that name and the association president, Venice Hughley almost single-handedly kept the park in the public eye.

VENICE HUGHLEY, LINCOLN PARK NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOC. "You know, this is a great day...this is a marvelous day..this is a blessed day. First off, I'm going to give honor to God."

This Friday morning was special to her.
The mayor came to make an announcement.

MAYOR ANDY BERKE, CHATTANOOGA "I am 100% committed to seeing this park preserved as a city asset. Applause".

The 5 acres actually belong to Erlanger, and although the board did not sign-off on the proposal Thursday, the CEO says he's optimistic about its final decision.

KEVIN SPIEGEL, CEO, ERLANGER MEDICAL CENTER "We believe that this park should remain a park, and we are working with mayor's office to make sure that..and the board is committed to explore all the possibilities to make this a reality."

The mayor says he isn't sure how much the property is worth..or exactly how the city plans to extend Central avenue to the river.

MAYOR ANDY BERKE "..the best possible process that will result in extending Central Avenue in a way that benefits and strengthens Lincoln Park ..while also opening up areas closer to Riverfront Parkway for

Mayor Berke says his administration will answer all of the hospital board's questions in the next few days.
He says the park will become a partnership with the "Trust for Public Land", an organization that preserves historic landmarks.

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