KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – New facilities and upgrades were unveiled at Lakeshore Park, enhancing the features and scenic view of the most utilized public green space in Knoxville.
“You can see the water and that’s my greatest attraction. It’s just beautiful the landscaping is really nice, and I can’t say enough about it,” Sue Reagan said. “It’s going to be a beautiful place when it’s finished.”
The improvements include an additional mile of walking trail, new pavilions, and a brand new overlook, in honor of Jimmy and Dee Haslam and the Haslam family.
“I think it’s pretty impressive,” Jim Haslam said. “I think it weighs about four or five tons and the back is even prettier than the front, but the best thing about it is the view. This view typifies what this park is all about.”
The Haslams chaired the Lakeshore Park for decades and are credited with leading the creation of the park and helping fund its development.
“I grew up in Sequoyah Hills was familiar with the park and saw the tremendous potential and it was Caesar’s vision to create this park which would benefit Knoxvillians of all ages for really generations to come and it’s our pleasure in helping make it happen,” Jimmy Haslam, Pilot Flying J CEO, said.
The park used to be the site of a mental hospital that closed down in 2012 and has since been transformed into a fully public space.
“This was a dream that this place would be 100 percent a public park for all the public to use and so that dream has been fulfilled,” Caesar Stair III, of the Lakeshore Park board, said.
The city of Knoxville provided the land and demolishing buildings, with the Lakeshore Park non-profit corporation raising more than $21 million in donations in hopes of the park becoming a Knoxville destination for years to come.
“We now have an easement, a conservation easement over the 185 acres, so in perpetuity it will always be a place for the public,” Stair said.
There are additional improvements currently under construction at the park, which are expected to be unveiled in March 2018. It includes an additional mile of walking trail, bringing the total to four miles. It will also feature a riverwalk on the banks of the Tennessee River, a fishing pier and a picnic area. The 185-acre park welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.