Let’s Improve Jackson Square!

City Council has two competing resolutions on their agenda this evening. One could direct $1 million ($800K from a TDOT grant + a $200K city match) towards improving the city owned parking lot and areas within Jackson Square. You can review the potential design plan here. The other would add sidewalks and a bicycle lane to Lafayette Dr. The following is the email I sent to council on the matter.
Members of Council:

I want to encourage you all to support the TDOT resolution on tonight’s agenda for the Jackson Square project based on the following:

1. Jackson Square and this city need these improvements much more than the alternative proposal (which was NOT submitted by the Bicycle Pedestrian Working Committee/BPWC of which I am a member). In fact, there have already been millions of dollars invested in recent years that have resulted in significant improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. There have been no city improvements made to Jackson Square that I am aware of.

2. This commitment requires minimum risk and minimum funds from city coffers but could reap a 5 fold return in the form of the actual grant.

3. There is ongoing lost opportunity that can be recouped by this effort. For example, the middle school and high school football games and events like this year’s Leprechaun 5K bring in significant traffic. Most of this traffic departs the area once the events are over with the exception of those who go to Big Ed’s and Razzleberry’s . Most people leave because those options simply cannot accommodate them all. These proposed improvements would incentivize both current and future tenants to make improvements and/or expand.

4. On a personal note, during the summer, I frequently take my daughter to splash pads in Knoxville. Like many parents I know, I would LOVE to add Oak Ridge splash pad trips to her future memory bank among others like our trips to the Oak Ridge outdoor pool, Razzleberry’s and Oak Ridge museums.

But what is of greater importance than any of these reasons, I believe, is that this town needs to see you all unite on something positive. People are tired of seeing opportunities lost. If you don’t give them some reason to believe that you can actually agree on something as simple and low risk as this endeavor, then you will have lost what little confidence they had in you (as a governing body) to begin with. Please, pull together on this one.


Trina Baughn


  1. Trina…. I usually agree with you but for the life of me I don't see how spending $1M on landscaping the Jackson Sq. parking lot is going to accomplish anything. I checked it out once again last week and it seems to be in pretty decent shape, at least in as good a shape as any other in OR. The problem, as I see it, is the ramshackle buildings, 70 years old and landlords (Tony and Howard) who are not about to spend anything to improve them. Now if you want to spend the $1M to bulldoze those building down and start over, then I think you are on to something.Just my view….. Sam

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Sam. In addition to what I've already stated, I'll add the following:- TDOT is going to give the $1 mil to someone, might as well be us- Council was not going to forego pursuit of the grant and the other choice had no chance of any ROI- The design proposals included much needed features like lighting (I don't believe any exists), ADA compliant features and increased parking spaces. – The current business owners as well as some potential new ones spoke to council and supported the 4th point in my original post.I believe we are up against at least 50 other cities. Given the divided response of council, I doubt you'll have anything to worry about on this one. I hope I'm wrong.

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