Mayor Says Erlanger To Donate 5 Acres Of Old Lincoln Park As City Park; Action Must Still Go Through Erlanger Board

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mayor Andy Berke, at a press conference on Friday morning at the old Lincoln Park, said Erlanger Health System plans to donate five acres of the park to the city for continued park use.

The Erlanger board was due to have approved the move on Thursday night, but the item was pulled from the agenda after some board members had questions about the transfer.

Mayor Berke said he and his staff immediately began talks with Erlanger officials and board members "to provide complete information and to answer all their questions." He said he is confident that the deal will go through soon.

The mayor also assured a large group of Lincoln Park neighborhood residents that a new road extending Central Avenue to Riverside Drive "will not go through the park."

He indicated that the road will still be built in a way he said will benefit both Erlanger and Lincoln Park residents.

“Lincoln Park is an important piece of our city’s African American history and culture,” said Mayor Berke. “Preserving the park was one of the first community development projects on our radar. I want to thank Erlanger as well as Councilman Moses Freeman and surrounding neighbors for continuing to engage in this process.”

He added, “Over the next month, we will bring members of my department of Transportation and Economic and Community Development together with the Erlanger Board to answer questions and alleviate any remaining concerns regarding the transfer of this land. I am confident that we will be able to work together with Erlanger to make this transfer happen. I want to reassure everyone here today that I am 100 percent committed to preserving this park.” 

“We are committed to work with the city to make Lincoln Park available to all residents of our community and acknowledge the history that Lincoln Park stands for,” said Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE, Erlanger Health Systems president & CEO.

 

“As a trustee of the Erlanger board I am excited about this opportunity to bring our mission of changing lives to life,” said Kim White, Erlanger board member. “By working with our committed partners, the city of Chattanooga and the Lincoln Park residents, we can come together and turn this into an asset we can all be proud of.”

“We are glad to see that the Administration is taking this so seriously,” said Lincoln Park Neighborhood President Vanice Hughley. “This park means so much to our community, and I believe that we will work together to make this project work.”

 

“Lincoln Park is a great example of a neighborhood working with this administration toward a common purpose. I appreciate the hard work of everyone involved in making the preservation of this land a reality,” said Councilman Freeman.

Erlanger Vice President Gregg Gentry said the city transferred 18.3 acres at the old Lincoln Park as part of a land swap around 1979-1981. Erlanger built a child care facility on part of the tract and uses a building at the old Lincoln Park pool for construction headquarters.

The five-acre tract that is slated for a new city park includes tennis courts and the old baseball field.

At the press conference were many who grew up at Lincoln Park, including former City Commissioner John Franklin, who said he often would spend the entire day in the Olympic-size swimming pool.

UTC Vice President Richard Brown said he also played at the park that opened in 1918 near Erlanger just off the current end of Central Avenue. 

Rep. JoAnne Favors said she would walk along Central Avenue from her home on the Southside to enjoy Lincoln Park. She said, "My mother gave me a bus token to use in case of lightning."

She said it was free to enter the park, but there was a charge for the pool and the rides, that included a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, swings, kiddy cars and kiddy buggy. She said, "If you presented six Donald Duck bottle caps you could get in the swimming pool free."

Rep. Favors recalled enjoying popcorn, cotton candy and Cool Outs (snow cones) at Lincoln Park.

She said on Sundays that Lincoln Park would be so crowded "it was like Riverbend."

She said that was the only park blacks were allowed to attend. The only day of the year they could enter Warner Park was on Friday of county fair week, she stated. 

Also present at the press conference was Ben "Big Ben" Scruggs, who used to be one of the operators for the Ferris wheel and other rides.

He said Lincoln Park was the only park for blacks in the country that had amusement rides. He said blacks would come from other cities throughout the South to enjoy all that Lincoln Park had to offer, including the baseball and softball games.

He remembers as many as 65 buses parked outside the park.

Mr. Scruggs said the heyday of Lincoln Park ended when the parks were desegregated. Blacks from other cities then had other local options. Blacks in Chattanooga suddenly were able to visit Warner Park and other parks.

The crowds at Lincoln Park slimmed so much that the owner of the rides, a man named Thornhill, sold them and they were taken away, he said. 

The Olympic-size swimming pool was filled in.

Mayor Berke said he has asked the Trust For Public Land to hold public meetings to draft a plan for the best future use of Lincoln Park.  


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ARWOOD, THOMAS WILLIAM  4131 JONES COVE ROAD SEVIERVILLE, 378766658  Age at Arrest: 42 years old Arresting Agency: Collegedale Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ASHBY, BRITTANY LYNN  3644 TANAKA TRAIL CHATT, 37404  Age at Arrest: 22 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Kendric Evans, 20, Shot On Lyerly Street

Police said 20-year-old Kendric Evans was shot on Lyerly Street late Sunday afternoon.   At 5:11 p.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a local hospital concerning a person who had been shot.   The victim arrived at the hospital suffering from a gunshot wound which was non-life threatening. The victim did not identify the suspect or how he had arrived at ... (click for more)

Proud Of Chattanooga And The Women's March

I was very happy to participate in the Women’s March on Chattanooga yesterday afternoon. The diversity and the sheer numbers of women, men and children were incredible. One estimate was at least 3,000. Standing together with all of these like-minded souls was overwhelming and humbling.  I have rarely been so happy and so proud of my town.  One question is, why is ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Washington’s Favorite

By the time darkness fell over Washington, D.C., on Sunday, it had clearly been a monumental weekend. On Friday Donald Trump had ben inaugurated as the 45 th President of the United States. On Saturday a fierce crowd of a half-million women who each are entitled to have the identical rights as men in the same United States, marched on The Mall. And then, the Washington Post printed ... (click for more)

Tullahoma Nips East Hamilton For Central Mat Title

The annual Central Invitational wrestling tournament was cancelled two weeks ago by the threat of inclement weather, but they were able to get it in on Saturday and it was a battle to the wire for the team championship. Luke Champion was the individual winner at 285 pounds and it was his victory that lifted the Tullahoma Wildcats to the team title as they finished the day-long ... (click for more)

Father Ryan Rallies To Beat Soddy Daisy

The Soddy Daisy Trojans may have been embarrassed over a lopsided whipping they took at the hands of the Bradley Bears Thursday night in Cleveland, but they came out with fire in their eyes Friday night in a dual meet with Father Ryan. The host Trojans had a seemingly-comfortable 32-22 lead with three matches remaining, but the Purple Irish won all three -- including two with ... (click for more)