Lincoln Park residents taking actions needed in hopes to stop Ce - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lincoln Park residents taking actions needed in hopes to stop Central Avenue expansion

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - Residents of a historic Chattanooga community say a highway extension is a threat to their beloved neighborhood, that isn't getting the recognition it deserves.

A Central Avenue expansion is scheduled to receive over $5 million dollars in federal highway funding, thereby triggering federal civil rights and environmental protections.

The Lincoln Park leaders say they've been discriminated against and left out of the planning process of the project.

They claim they're getting empty promises from the mayor's office and are now looking to do something about it.

"When I come out here, I can close my eyes and I can see the merry-go-round, the ferris wheel, the grand stands," said Vannice Hughley, Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association President.

Good memories are hard for Hughley to think about, when the place she had many of them, is being threatened by a busy street.

"As an adult, I played in this park. As a child, I played in this park," said Hughley. "This is a part of me, as an African American, this park is."

While they've been told no harm will come to the park, the residents aren't buying it.

"No route is going through the park, yeah right, I'll believe it when I see it," said Hughley.

They say it will break up the historic integrity of the park no matter where it's placed, while also bringing in added traffic and threatening their personal properties.

They believe registering the park as a historical site will save it, but say its eligibility is inside of a 93 page report that they've been denied access to.

"What's in it? Nobody knows- but that's the norm as far as we are concerned," said Hughley.

They're not giving up without a fight and plan to file with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission for a title VI civil rights violation and the Environmental Protection Agency for environmental justice abuses. They're ready to take legal action if needed to make their voices heard.

"We want to make this very loud and clear to Mayor Berke: we will not surrender our history in the name of a progress in which we are not all benefiting," said Tiffany Robinson.   

We spoke with representatives from the mayor's office who said "the Berke administration has been committed to engaging the residents of Lincoln Park throughout this process. From multiple public meetings to numerous one-on-one meetings and phone calls, we have worked hard to include the various stakeholders, including Lincoln Park residents and the members of their neighborhood association, Erlanger, Councilman Freeman, and the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. "

They also tell us the report is still being put together by the National Environmental Protection Agency and will not be available for viewing until it is completed sometime next year.

Construction will not begin until after the report is made public.

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