Ftn. City lake, park may become Knoxville properties

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Fountain City Lake during the fall. Photo from Fountain City Lion’s Club.

Although they’re both private property, the City of Knoxville has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Fountain City Lake and the adjoining Fountain City Park over the past few years.

The lake and park are actually owned by the Fountain City Lion’s Club, which was chartered in 1942 and has maintained the popular playgrounds for decades.

All that could change, however, with a vote by City Council on Tuesday night.

The Lion’s Club wants to donate the lake and park to the City, a move that would allow officials to directly manage a pair of properties that they’ve been footing much of the bill for since the turn of the century.  

If Council members approve the deal, the property will become Knoxville’s 93rd park.

City officials have already budgeted more than $1 million to improve the lake’s water quality. The 2021-22 budget has $250,000 going toward bringing the playground up to Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards and making improvements to the paved trail that winds around much of the 8-acre park’s perimeter.

Since 2014, the City has spent more than $750,000 to fix the lake’s major water-quality problems caused by stagnant water, thick algae, and too many waterfowl. 

Known by many as “The Duck Pond,” the manmade lake has served as home to ducks and other waterfowl. It’s also regularly stocked with fish, and generations of Knoxvillians learned the basics of fishing in its shallow waters.

The City has fixed a leak in the lake’s earthen berm so water levels could be managed and repaired the fountain and pump house to aerate the water. Wetlands were planted to remove shallow, stagnant areas that were conducive to algae growth.  Several thick layers of muck and duck feces, algae and invasive plants have also been removed from the lake, according to a City press release.

“It’s a work in progress that requires constant monitoring and adjustments, but significant improvements have been made – so much so that the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has introduced winter trout fishing at Fountain City Lake. The state would not have been able to do that had the lake been as choked by algae and invasive species as it was just a few years ago,” a press release said. 

“If City Council is agreeable to accepting the Lions Club’s generous offer, we look forward to bringing Fountain City Park into the City’s system as our 93rd park,” said Parks and Recreation Director Sheryl Ely. “We’ll do the Lions proud by continuing what they lovingly started more than 50 years ago.”

Mayor Kincannon described the lifelong attachment that many local families and groups have formed with the lake.

 “Citywide, generations of families have cherished Fountain City Park. For five decades, children have been swinging on the playground swings, and families have enjoyed the ducks and picnicked in the gazebo,” said Kincannon.

“We appreciate how the Fountain City Lions Club has lovingly cared for the park for so many years. Maintaining these 8 acres has become increasingly expensive, especially managing the lake. So when the Lions asked us for assistance, without hesitation, we told them, ‘We’re here to help.’ We’re committed to making sure Fountain City Park remains a joyful gathering place for many generations to come,” she said.

Published on June 28, 2021