A shortended version of this letter, from the Bearden Council, will appear in the paper this weekend. This was emailed late Friday by Teresa Faulkner, head of the Bearden Council:
Beginning in 1989 Bearden community leaders began working to clean up and beautify the Bearden commercial area on Kingston Pike. Walking from our neighborhoods to the commercial areas to do this work caused us to realize that the proximity of residential areas to commercial areas presented us with a unique opportunity to help create an attractive, sustainable, urban environment in Bearden. Neighborhood leaders realized that Bearden, with proper infrastructure added, had the potential to become a community in which residents could live, work, buy groceries, exercise, access schools and public transit to anywhere in the city, enjoy an excellent quality of life and NEVER have to use a car (an excellent retirement community!). So we began our work to create a healthier, sustainable, pedestrian/public transit friendly, pleasant urban environment which would enrich the quality of life for all who live here.
Project beginnings: In 1999 neighborhood leaders requested that our local planning organization, the Metropolitan Planning Commission, work with Bearden residents and business owners to help design a Bearden “Village” small area plan. We participated in planning meetings for over a year with MPC staff to complete the pedestrian/public transit friendly plan which was approved by MPC Commissioners and City Council in 2001.
Since 1989 community leaders had worked with local businesses and developers to landscape and beautify the Bearden area
in a non-official way. In 2001 the Bearden Council was formed with “official” representatives from neighborhoods and
businesses in the Bearden area to help implement the “Bearden Village” plan in an organized manner. In these past 23
years these two groups have worked with over 75 local businesses, 12 commercial developers
(including Holrob, Dominion, M&M, Blue Ridge, Nick Cazana, Jim Harrison, TJ Development, and Murphy Development),
almost every department head in the city since 1989 and with three different Mayors. We have also worked with area schools,
Knox Heritage, East Tennessee Community Design Center, Knoxville Tree Board, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Knox Greenway
Coalition, KAT, TDOT and various UT officials to accomplish the projects listed below.
1) Acquisition in the early 2000’s of ca. two million dollars of federal, state (Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality [CMAQ] funding) with matches from local government. This funding combined with contributions solicited from local developers and businesses have resulted in 5+ miles of completed greenways and sidewalks in the area. East/west greenways now connect to West Knoxville, to the UT campus and downtown; and north/south sidewalks provide safe access for residents to the commercial areas and transit stops on Sutherland and Kingston Pike.
2) Sutherland Avenue “Main Street” efforts: $250,000 dollars were allocated in the 2012 city budget for sidewalk construction between Hollywood and Jade Streets to safely access local residents and UT intramural athletes to multiple businesses and restaurants located there. Additional crosswalks have been funded by UT on Sutherland and both projects will be completed in the fall of 2013. UT has contributed to community efforts to create an attractive “main street” in that area by adding decorative fencing, a public plaza, a greenway connection with adjoining public parking, ca. 100 trees and landscaping along the Bearden Village and Third Creek Greenways which are located next to the newly completed intramural fields.
3) Adding trees to beautify, provide shade and help clean the air: Almost 1000 trees have been added in the area along greenways, at schools and along major arteries. These have been funded by the city, grants from the state (Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement grants), TDOT, KUB, UT, Knoxville Junior League, Rotary Club, ocal developers and businesses.
4) Sheltered KAT transit stops: Six public transit stops have been added along Sutherland Avenue and Kingston Pike with shelters. TDOT grants and City Council discretionary funds have provided attractive landscaping around several of these. Local landscape architects donated their time to create the designs. An additional sheltered stop will be added this year on Kingston Pike near Earthfare.
5) Business/developer contributions: In addition to building sidewalks to access pedestrians into their business/development, they have added smaller signage, many of which are monument signs. Landscaping was often co-ordinated with a larger street plan, additional trees and benches were added benches were added to some sites.
6) Nineteen historic markers documenting local and planetary history have been added to greenways and sidewalks. These have been funded with Knox Greenway Coalition and City Council grants.
Because of these and other accomplishments in this area, the Bearden Village won the first Environmental Achievement award ever presented by the Metropolitan Planning Commission in 2009. Bearden Council members feel it is critical to continue the important work of helping to create a pleasant, environmentally sustainable urban area in Knoxville.
Bearden Council Unanimously supports the Ben Atchley Road Closure:
Not only have businesses and developers, et.al. supported us in many different ways during these years, but we have
also supported many of them in rezonings, variances and road closure requests, etc. when we
felt these changes were compatible with thegoals presented in the Bearden Village plan. In addition to considering the
explicit suggestions and plans put forth in that document when making our decisions, our members also carefully
consider the well-being of our entire community, not only in the short term impact of the changes requested, but the
possible long term negative or positive effects of those changes as well. It is our opinion that Mr. Cappiello’s plans for this
site preserves and puts to good use three of our earlier buildings which are sited in an awkward triangular property, unites
them with an additional building into one large attractive area creating an inviting pedestrian friendly, quality development for
the west end of the entire Homberg area which includes the Orangery (an early Bearden farmers co-op,
Naples (which is located in an early tourist “biscuits and ham” diner) and the Southern Market. The lengthy
sidewalk Mr.Cappiello has committed to adding on the north side of Homberg Street at the rear of his development, will be a
huge blessing for shoppers who park at there to shop but who also want have lunch or shop at other stores in
that ”terminus” western area of Homberg. The addition of sidewalks will also be of benefit to the entire Homberg area
which has no sidewalks as it will set a precedent for future developers and encourage existing businesses there to consider
funding additional linking walkways. This area is one of the most pleasant (with a great view of the open green spaces of the
Cherokee Country Club), historically interesting and appealing areas in Bearden and could become one of our hidden ”jewels”.
It has space for medium density housing, a retirement home, up-scale apartments or condominiums and Bearden has all the amenities for lots of additional residents to enjoy on foot and we believe that Mr. Cappiello’s development will be a first big step to future quality development in the historic Homberg area, an exciting addition to the Bearden Village and a destination point for Knoxville residents living in other areas, as our Earthfare has become! For these reasons the Bearden
Council is supporting Tony Cappiello in his request for the closure of Ben Atchley Street.