As a city councilman, you often hear from neighborhood groups and individuals about the need/desire for more sidewalks, a safer way to get around the neighborhood on foot or bike. In a May 10 Shopper article, I wrote about the five criteria the city’s engineers use to assign priority to sidewalk segments to build.
Let’s focus on quantity. Currently, Knoxville builds roughly a mile-plus of new sidewalks and rebuilds another mile-plus of reworked/repaired walks each budget year. How can we build more?
Mayor Madeline Rogero and council member Nick Pavlis deserve credit for adding to our greenway system with the recent announcement that almost a mile will be added in South Knoxville from the Mary Vestal Park over to the Ogle-Martin Mill Pike corner.
Now that greenways in the city are under new management, progress is occurring at a faster pace than in the prior five years. Better late than never for Team Rogero. Let’s hope this pace is maintained and even accelerated. This column will keep checking on the actual progress.
There’s a reason Ellen Zavisca and her colleagues are big on greenways.
“People in this country have been hearing for years, decades, that we need to be more physically active,” Zavisca said last week to the Sierra Club’s Harvey Broome Chapter. “And yet if you look at the trends of the percent of the population that’s getting no leisure-time physical activity, it’s pretty flat. The percent of the population that has regular exercise or does regular organized exercise … is pretty flat, despite all our exhortations and programs. …
When I was a kid, my parents played a game with me called Dots and Boxes. It starts with a grid of dots, and the object is to draw lines between the dots while avoiding giving your opponent the opportunity to complete a box. When you complete a box, you put your initial in it, and the one with the most initials at the end wins. This is how parents kept children quiet before cell phones.
The game is easy at the beginning. You have to draw a lot of lines before it becomes a challenge.
We live in one of the most scenic areas in the country. With the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cumberland Plateau and countless rivers and streams in between, our region is perhaps best known for its ridges, waterways and (of course) Dolly Parton. Yet, too often our local governments have made shortsighted decisions that fail to take advantage of our area’s natural beauty. In fact, more often than not, we’ve taken it for granted.
My favorite example of shortsighted planning is the waterfront of downtown Knoxville.
Mayor Rogero appropriately issued a statement of condolence and concern for the tragic stabbing that occurred May 3 on the Third Creek Greenway and pledged to increase police presence on greenways.
The questions that need to be asked are how many additional officers will be deployed and what is their schedule in general terms? Secondly, how long will this increase in police activity on the greenways last? No one asked that of our mayor’s communications office.