Changes are often so subtle or gradual that we don’t notice them at first. Taken together they can make a real difference in the environment around us which, in this case, is a city. The path pictured above is the most recent, widely obvious change to downtown.
Put in place to deal with the difficulties of growing grass and protecting the Oak Trees on the square, I think the city did a nice job. I’ve heard people suggest that the path should have crossed the other way, as well, but it’s a pretty small space and that would not have left much but rock. Personally, I would have liked to see an iron fountain in the middle with some wrought iron benches on either side, but I’m likely channeling a little too much Bienville Square from my childhood.
We’re also getting new recycling receptacles in parks around Knoxville and, I presume that includes Krutch Park and maybe Market Square, though I haven’t noticed. It’s a new push for more recycling and less trash. Other recycling news and another small change includes the fact that the city is moving the large recycling center from beside Central Street (directly behind Mast General and the Brew Pub) to Willow Street in the Old City. The Goodwill collection drop-off will move there, as well.
This is an early step toward the development of the Marble Alley apartments on the site. The city has also approved a $650,000 capital project for Marble Alley streetscape and State Street improvements. While the design remains controversial, a lot of money is about to pour into that site from different directions. Here’s hoping it all turns out to be a good thing for downtown. It certainly is the first time we’ve come this close to making a parking lot into a building in a long, long time.
Another, obvious change is that we’ve lost last year’s sculptures and seem to get more of the new replacements each day. My early feel is I’m liking this lot. I particularly like the one I’ve pictured above. I have to say, though, I thought the one of the human arch beside the southern-most pool in Krutch Park needed to be made permanent. It just seemed made for that space.
There are also small signs appearing around downtown – and I apologize for failing to photograph them. They are plastic and attached to street signs and show historical photographs of the view a pedestrian might have had from that spot a hundred years ago or so. It’s a cool idea and I’ll try to look into it more – unless one of you knows the source of the signs and wants to leave a comment. I know there was a website attached, but I failed you guys this time around.
Finally, the big opportunity: A public forum will be held at the Southern Depot this afternoon at 5:30. This will be an opportunity for public input regarding future use and development of “city-owned property between Gay Street and Broadway.” The focus is on the 500 block of Jackson Avenue at which location the city owns a large parking lot and the remains of the McClung Warehouses. Do you have an opinion? Be there and express it. This promises to be a more pleasant walk than the last public forum held in that spot. The night we discussed food trucks was raining, very windy and cold.
I’ll be interested to see if anyone brings up other properties that would be included in that broad statement. For example, we’ve recently talked about the parking lot at the corner of Summit Hill Drive and Gay Street. The city apparently owns it and it needs to have an awesome mixed-use building to replace one side of the 200 block and connect the 100 block to the rest of the city.
I hope to see you there. It should be interesting.