Haslam family donates $ 35 million to Lakeshore Park in Knoxville

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The Haslam family will donate $ 35 million to Lakeshore Park in Knoxville, which will be used to improve baseball, soccer and other amenities outlined in the park’s master plan.

The Haslam donation will be used to make a part of the park’s master plan, which was approved by Knoxville City Council last fall, a reality. Construction is scheduled to begin in November and could take two years.

Susan “Dee” Haslam presented the gift to the park on Monday on behalf of the family. She is Chair of the Lakeshore Park Conservancy Board of Directors.

“Open green spaces are vital for our children and adults, and the conservation of spaces like Lakeshore is necessary to preserve the beauty and natural resources of this region,” she said.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon has said West Knoxville Park, located along the Tennessee River in the Lyons View neighborhood, is the most visited in the city.

1. How did we get here?

The East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane first opened on the property in 1886 and was later renamed the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute. The park opened on 60 acres of hospital property in 1995, according to a press release, and the hospital closed almost 20 years later.

As well as being the most visited park in town, it’s also the largest, sitting on 185 acres of land with great views of the Smokies.

“(Lakeshore Park is) very unique in that we are Knoxville’s only reserve managed recreation park,” Julieanne Foy, executive director of Lakeshore Park Conservancy, told Knox News. “We are a municipal park, but we manage and manage the park.

“That’s not to say the city isn’t providing support. ”

Knoxville City Council approved a master plan for the park in October 2020, according to a press release.

However, the first phase of the renovations took place earlier with the opening of HGTV Overlook in May 2020 following a $ 3 million donation from Scripps Networks Interactive.

2. What is included in phase 2, part 1?

Foy told Knox News that most of the Phase 2 renovations will take place in the “sports area.” The park master plan also includes a natural area and a civic area, where renovations will take place in future phases.

Plans for Phase 2 call for the concentration of sports facilities on the south side of the park, with four new Little League baseball fields and a smaller field for challengers. The football fields will remain in their current location but will be updated.

The park plans to add a “mini field” to the sports area for young footballers, Foy said, and the fields will be fitted with new lights that create less light pollution.

A new playing field will be built between the football and baseball fields, she said, and a “sports field” will provide a hillside area for trophy ceremonies and other events.

The concentration of sports on one side of the park is expected to concentrate game day traffic, Foy previously told Knox News. Plans are in place to improve navigation in the park by widening roads and adding sidewalks.

Two baseball fields have already been removed from the park. The remaining four fields will be removed once new fields are filled in, Foy said.

Leveling work on the new baseball fields will provide soil that will be used to build the sculptural mound on the southeast side of the park. The mound could include seating on top and would obscure the nearby water treatment facility.

The mound will also serve as a natural amphitheater, which could be a venue for concerts and events.

3. Why such a large donation?

The following family members contributed to the $ 35 million Haslam donation:

  • Jim and Nathalie Haslam
  • Bill and Crissy Haslam
  • Dee and Jimmy Haslam
  • Ann and Steve Bailey

“When I think of the places in Knoxville that make it special, Lakeshore Park is one that comes to mind,” Bill Haslam, former mayor of Knoxville and governor of Tennessee, said in a press release. “It’s beautiful, but what makes it really great is the way the space serves people.”

Dee Haslam said she was excited about the park’s mission to provide more than just a place for physical recreation. The master plan is also designed with mental and cultural health in mind.

She believes park renovations can “strengthen families, bring neighbors together and be a source of pride for this great city.”

4. What other work could be done?

Knox News previously reported on the comprehensive master plan, which includes additional playgrounds, amphitheatres and outdoor exercise areas.

The natural area would include an area of ​​grass cultivated in prairie, which would support wildlife and reduce the park’s carbon footprint. The HGTV Overlook is included in the proposed civic zone.

5. What will be the impact of the construction on visitors?

The park and trails will remain open during construction, Foy said. However, some park amenities may be limited at times.

Lakeshore Park is located at 6410 S. Northshore Drive. For more information, visit lakeshoreparkknoxville.org.

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