Chattanooga residents concerned about Central Avenue extension - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga residents concerned about Central Avenue extension

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

For years, the city has proposed extending Central Avenue several blocks farther to connect it to Amnicola Highway or Riverside Drive. 

City Council members approved the project, which is included in the FY 2018 Capital Budget Tuesday night. 

But some say they're concerned about the impact it will have on the entire Lincoln Park neighborhood. 

"That will in turn without doing anything else will cause the gentrification or whitification of Lincoln Park which is an African-American neighborhood," said Tom Kunesh of Chattanooga InterTribal Association. 

The extension will cost $233,231 this fiscal year. 

Kunesh says it will only benefit future residents of a new condo and upscale apartment projects. 

"All of that is supposed to pale in comparison to the billion dollars of development that two businesses want to put up there and they need access to Amnicola and they need access to Third Avenue." 

Lincoln Park sits in the middle of a small neighborhood east and north of Erlanger. It opened in 1918, and was the only park in Chattanooga Blacks could use during segregation.

The five acres of green space are not at risk, but Kunesh says another part of the park is. 

"The third on the west side is an old bathhouse and an Olympic size swimming pool. That was the only place where African-Americans could swim in a pool within 100 mile radius that is over on the west side; that will be gone." 

While the city gears up for construction, some hope the Lincoln Park neighborhood will left alone. 

"That's history and the national register of historic places believes it's historical and it should become Chattanooga's first African-American historical neighborhood," said Kunesh. 

The five acres of Lincoln Park are owned by Erlanger. Channel 3 attempted to get into the park, but Erlanger security told us no one is allowed on the property. 

A city spokesperson says the property will go to the city in a land swap before the construction starts. 

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