Chattanooga hold first public workshop for POP Plan

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Outdoor enthusiasts flocked to the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to provide their input on the future of Chattanooga’s parks.

Tonight was just the first public workshop that revolve around the city’s new Parks and Outdoors Plan.

The goal in mind is to provide top-quality park access to all Chattanoogans, regardless of background and zip code.

From industrial gardens to inviting in wildlife to outdoor libraries and even cricket pitches, everything is on the table for the future of Chattanooga parks.

“This is blue sky day,” said Scott Martin, Administrator for Chattanooga Parks & Outdoors. “There are going to be plenty of days of ‘I can’t afford,’ ‘where are the resources going to come from,’ [and] the napalms of negativity. That ain’t this.”

Public input is desired from the city as it looks decades ahead to what its parks could be.

The city’s Parks and Outdoors Plan will feature six months of public engagement, including community workshops and online surveys.

It revolves around four principles: equity, access, quality and place.

“Where you come from, social class economically, what your background is — these parks are for everybody and that’s kind of what this whole plan is about,” said Charlie Mix, UTC’s Geographic Information Systems Director

Martin says that with today’s crushing inflation and high gas prices, the need for urban parks has never been higher.

In light of the recent violence among the city’s youth, he also believes city parks could provide an opportunity to reach out to the next generation.

Martin: What if we incorporated e-sports into our outdoor park spaces? What would that mean for families? With the violence we’re suffering here in our community, what if one of our diversions for our children and youth were positive outdoor electronic experiences? Meet them where they are.

After attending the parks’ plan’s first public session, Mix believes Chattanoogans are ready to keep advancing the great outdoors in the Scenic City.

Mix: There’s a huge turnout from the community. I’ve been to several planning events like this over the years and I’ve never seen a turnout like this. So I think it shows just how excited people are about parks in Chattanooga.

Kurt Culbertson of Design Workshop has seen master park plans come to fruition in Vancouver, Denver and New Orleans, among other cities.

He was impressed with the size of the crowd tonight and is excited to see where the city takes its parks.

For those looking to participate in the POP development process, maps, surveys and more can be found online.

Categories: Chattanooga, Featured, Local News