The City of Chattanooga on Monday released the results of a community input process held in late February to establish a name of a currently under-construction park in Alton Park. Located at the former Charles A. Bell Elementary School site, the new park space will be named the Southside Community Park.
“From the beginning, this park project has been driven completely by community input and wishes. I'm extremely proud of the work we have done and hope it conveys that Alton Park matters to the City of Chattanooga. This is an area that has been neglected for decades. Through a partnership with Mayor Berke, I have worked very hard to reverse that,” said Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson, who represents District 7 where Alton Park is located.
After the City took over ownership of the site in 2014, Alton Park neighborhood leaders along with Councilman Chris Anderson and the City’s Department of Economic & Community Development held a community engagement process to create the new green space. The process has included numerous public input sessions on the design and development of the park, like the one where community members recommended and voted on names for the site.
“The neighborhoods surrounding the new Southside Community Park are full of history and represent Chattanoogans from all walks of life,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “These community leaders have worked hard to see this day come, where a vacant site in the middle of their neighborhood is transformed into a beautiful space for families and friends to gather. The name of the park reflects an inviting, inclusive park that will strengthen this community.”
The City of Chattanooga and community members broke ground for the new Southside Community Park in February. The former school on the site closed in 1989, and the county-owned structure was demolished in 2011. Now, the Southside Community Park will enhance the vibrancy of the neighborhood and connect residents with options for recreation and gathering.
“I think the park name is really nice, and it includes the entire community on the Southside, and everyone on the Southside will be welcome. Everybody will know that it's inclusive. It's for everybody not just certain sections,” said Alton Park resident and neighborhood leader Rosemary Porter. “I think that it was really nice that city had a meeting and invited everyone out for suggestions on the name. I'm excited, and I’m looking forward to seeing it finished.”
Community leaders also explored names for the park that included historic leaders and neighborhood visionaries. Chattanooga’s Open Spaces division is working with the community on a special way to incorporate and honor the names of leaders who have been influential in Alton Park and the surrounding areas.
Other plans for the Southside Community Park, which is currently under construction, include a quarter-mile walking path, open lawn for community activities, benches, and a large pavilion with picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking fountain.
Construction is expected to be complete later this summer. Mayor Berke allocated $1 million in capital funds in Fiscal Year 2015 to transform the site, and in late December of 2016, City Council approved a contract with P&C Construction, who is building the park. For more information, visit connect.chattanooga.gov/newpark.