Lakeshore Park announces start of construction with Haslam family gift


Lakeshore Park Conservancy today announced the start of Phase 2 Part 1 of the park’s updated master plan. Following approval by Knoxville City Council in October 2020 to the Lakeshore Park Master Plan, the Conservancy has been fundraising and working toward implementation. Construction is slated to start in November and will take about two years to complete.

To fund this revitalization of Lakeshore Park, Knoxville’s largest, most centrally located and most visited general recreation park, the Haslam family is gifting $35 million to the project. The gift was made by Natalie and Jim Haslam; Crissy and Bill Haslam; Ann and Steve Bailey; and Dee and Jimmy Haslam.

Members of the Haslam family today presented a $35 million gift to Lakeshore Park Conservancy to support implementation of the park’s updated master plan. Pictured, from left: Former Gov. Bill and Crissy Haslam; Dee and Jimmy Haslam; Lakeshore Park Conservancy Executive Director Julieanne Foy; Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon; Natalie and Jim Haslam; and Ann and Steve Bailey.

“For more than 25 years, Lakeshore Park has been an integral part of the Knoxville landscape and the setting for many facets of our community life,” Lakeshore Park Conservancy Executive Director Julieanne Foy said. “Our plans to renovate, replace, enhance and grow are rooted in our commitment to ensure the park continues to meet the needs of every visitor and the public at large. The Haslam family shares in that commitment, and their cornerstone gift will make these plans a reality for this generation and those that follow.”

The plan for Lakeshore Park reflects a continued commitment to providing the community with landscapes for mental, physical and cultural health by concentrating park improvements into athletic, civic and natural areas. Construction of new features to the park include a baseball complex, field house, pavilions with event lawns, small amphitheater, playgrounds, trails, fitness areas and a maintenance facility.

“Public-private partnerships can be key in realizing the full potential of a city, as illustrated by the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department and Lakeshore Park Conservancy,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “Green space is a critical asset for communities, adding to our quality of life by supporting the physical and mental health of our residents and making Knoxville an attractive place to live and work. This generous gift from the Haslam family will help transform Lakeshore Park to better serve and support the growing needs of our city.”

During this phase of the project, the park’s land stretching from the Tennessee River to Northshore Drive along the west end of the park will be transformed in stages. Park elements, such as the baseball fields, will be relocated to the athletic space of the updated layout and will make room for several new elements like the event venues and play areas. Lakeshore Park will remain open during construction, though some features and access may be limited at times.

“When I think of the places in Knoxville that make it special, Lakeshore Park absolutely is one that comes to mind,” said Bill Haslam, former Knoxville mayor and Tennessee governor. “It’s beautiful, but what makes it really terrific is how the space serves people. Every day it’s vibrant and full of life, with people relaxing and enjoying nature; playing sports and exercising; taking a stroll with friends or pets; gathering for food and fellowship; and so much more. We’re fortunate to have Lakeshore Park in our community and we are grateful to be a part of enhancing it for future generations to enjoy.”

The project is led by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Sanders Pace Architecture, CEC Knoxville, Tillett Lighting Design Associates and Facility Systems Consultants, LLC. Lakeshore Park engaged renowned Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of Charlottesville, Virginia, to study the history, ecology and existing uses of the land to guide the long-term development of the park. The resulting master plan, updated in 2020, takes into account the substantial increases in the size and usage of the park, maximizing the functionality and natural landscape to create areas that visitors of every age can enjoy.

“Our grandchildren are growing up playing in Lakeshore Park, and we’ve spent invaluable time together here,” Ann Bailey said. “We know the value of this amazing place and look forward to seeing the park grow and evolve for many more families to create lasting memories like we have.”

Lakeshore Park opened in 1995 on 60 acres of leased land at the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute and has grown and evolved over the years to 185 acres owned by the City of Knoxville and managed by the conservancy. Lakeshore Park is the only general recreation park in the City of Knoxville developed through a public-private partnership. With contributions from the general public and friends of the park, the conservancy manages day-to-day operations at the park, supplements the basic services provided by the city and builds new park improvements.

“Lakeshore Park serves as a front porch for the community, overlooking the beauty of East Tennessee,” Lakeshore Park Conservancy Board Chair Dee Haslam said. “Our family is committed to supporting Knoxville and believe Lakeshore Park is one of our city’s best assets. We’ve been intimately involved with the planning and know this gift will be maximized to serve the public, preserve the land, benefit the city and foster community for many years to come.”

For more information about Lakeshore Park and to make a donation supporting its enhancements, visit lakeshoreparkknoxville.org. To learn more about the 2020 master plan, visit lakeshoreparkknoxville.org/2020-master-plan/.

About Lakeshore Park Conservancy

The Lakeshore Park Conservancy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation responsible for the operation, management and enhancement of Lakeshore Park, a general recreation public park located in Knoxville, Tennessee on the banks of the Tennessee River. The Conservancy’s mission is to manage, preserve and enhance the park and to build a community dedicated to conserving the park for the future.

The 185-acre park includes three miles of walking trails, baseball fields, soccer fields, playgrounds, pavilions, riverfront piers, restrooms, picnic areas, special events fields and other facilities. For more information, please visit http://lakeshoreparkknoxville.org

About Thomas Woltz and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

Over the past two decades of practice, landscape architect Thomas Woltz has forged a body of work that integrates the beauty and function of built forms with an understanding of complex biological systems and restoration ecology. As principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), a 45-person firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and New York City, Woltz has infused narratives of the land into the places where people live, work and play, deepening the public’s enjoyment of the natural world and inspiring environmental stewardship. NBW projects create models of biodiversity and sustainable agriculture within areas of damaged ecological infrastructure and working farmland, yielding hundreds of acres of reconstructed wetlands, reforested land, native meadows and flourishing wildlife habitat.

In the founding tradition of landscape architecture, NBW is committed to aesthetic and environmental excellence, social commitment and innovation. The firm has been instrumental in steering landscape architecture towards integrated, ecologically performative design, relying on science-based methodology and collaboration with a wide range of systems experts. NBW has dramatically expanded the traditional role of landscape architecture into the areas of restoration ecology, urban planning, civil engineering, and agriculture. In the past two years, NBW has been entrusted with the design of significant public parks and cultural institutions in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, placing 30 years of design innovation in greater service to the public.

For more information, please visit https://www.nbwla.com.