Jay tackles Northshore challenges

Recently re-elected Knox County Commissioner At-Large Larsen Jay (Seat 11) shared updates of the ongoing Northshore Greenway/Pedestrian Safety project Monday, Nov. 7, in Davis Family YMCA.

About 40 individuals — mainly residents — gathered in the facility’s community room for the meeting, including 5th District Knox County Commissioner John Schoonmaker, Knox County Commissioner At-Large (Seat 10) Kim Frazier and Farragut Mayor Ron Williams.

The project, which Jay spearheaded early in his first term, has been enthusiastically supported by Knox County Commission and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, with a primary goal to provide better pedestrian safety along Northshore, as individuals and families “are typically taking their lives in their hands to cross that road,” Jay has noted.

Two segments of the five-phase project have been completed — Phase I (Callaway Ridge Trailhead and parking area, $15,000) and Phase II (Concord Park Greenway and improvements, $287,260), while Phase III (Concord Park Boardwalk construction, $818,769) is under way.

Up next will be Phase IV (Northshore Greenway-Americans with Disabilities Act compliance upgrades, $100,000), then Phase V, already estimated to cost around $990,000, will build a new greenway along on the north side of Northshore, between Cove Park and the Choto roundabout.

Jay pointed out additional safety features, including flashing signage, will be among the additions.

Residents expressed both support and opposition to that final phase during the Nov. 7 meeting.

Some asked why the greenway would be constructed on the north side of Northshore rather than the south.

One property owner “who owns a large chunk of land on the south side where there is no public right-of-way will not entertain ideas of selling access to Knox County,” Jay noted, adding the northside trail overall “will minimize the number of times people would have to cross Northshore” to access Concord Park, the Cove Park and/or the baseball fields and “will be more minimally disruptive to existing bushes and trees.”

Paul Fortunato, president of Montgomery Cove Homeowners Association, said the HOA conducted a poll among residents, “with 88 percent opposing” the plans.

Jay responded he had not seen that data and could not respond to it.

“This is the current plan,” he said, gesturing toward oversized project maps which were set up behind him, and available for inspection before and after the meeting. “We have looked at every other option. I know we will never have 100 percent of people happy.”

Fortunato confirmed after the meeting he had not shared the HOA information previously with the commissioner.

However, one resident stated, “This is a huge benefit to all of us and will give us amazing access to parks and trails. We have wanted this for years, and I’m grateful.”

Montgomery Cove resident Katie Kerchner, who attended with her husband, Kevin Kerchner, agreed and said they are “thrilled” with the project. ‘Our kids are most excited.”

“I thought the public meeting went well,” Jay said late last week. “... I’m excited to see the boardwalk section nearly complete and move towards installing the next and final phase in 2023.”

For more info, e-mail Jay at Larsen.jay@knoxcounty.org

Jim Snowden, Knox County director engineering and public works, (jim.snowden@knocounty.org); or Joe Mack, director for Knox County Parks & recreation (joe.mack@knoxcounty.org.).