Plans for historic Lincoln Park discussed - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Plans for historic Lincoln Park discussed

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced on Friday no road will be built through Lincoln Park.

City officials have been trying to come up with a design plan to connect Central Avenue to Amnicola Highway. Residents were concerned about extending Central Avenue through their community.

At a news conference with Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel and community members, Berke said Erlanger will transfer land ownership at its next board meeting. 

"It was a great feeling to hear him say the park will be saved cause there is so much history," said Napoleon Williams.

Napoleon Williams remembers growing up around the only park he and other blacks in segregated Chattanooga were allowed.

"We'd come here and go swimming on Wednesday cause they'd let you go in free," he said.

Williams learned to swim at the park's pool. He taught his daughter to swim there, too. He said he's thankful the City of Chattanooga is saving the park and his memories.

"I want to be absolutely clear again, no road will go through this park," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke told a crowd he's not messing with the park. He said he wants to save an important piece of city culture. He said the plan will keep five acres of hospital-owned land as green space and a community park.

"I want Lincoln Park to strengthen this neighborhood while honoring its historic place in this city," he said.

Erlanger owns the five acres of land behind the hospital. It's planning to donate the land to the city and was going to do so Thursday night during its Board of Trustees meeting. But the board put that vote on hold. Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel told Channel 3 some members still had lingering questions but that they're all committed to making the transfer of land happen.

"I think one of the problems last night was not enough information relayed to them to make a proper decision and we want that," Berke said.

Right now it's just a plan on paper. But the mayor said he's hopeful a deal will be reached next month.

A plan for the park is not yet permanent. But one thing that is: Williams' memories of Lincoln Park, dating back to the sixties.

"They call is a sack race and I won it. I won it right there," he said. "This was the only place black folks could go. Play softball, have picnics, go swimming."

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