(WBIR-Knoxville) The Legacy Parks Foundation announced Tuesday that Knoxville's Urban Wilderness will grow by about 10%, thanks to a land donation from a local family.
One hundred acres of South Knoxville land, originally purchased by the late developer Pat Wood, will soon become the area's latest outdoor recreation site.
"This is absolutely an amazing gift for many, many reasons," said Legacy Parks Foundation Director Carol Evans.
Evans says the site sits on land that is more level than other area trails and will offer more opportunities for the novice outdoor enthusiast.
"The topography allows us to have the first introductory mountain bike trail in Knox County and really in this area," said Evans.
In addition to hiking and biking trails, the new park will include a look out point and recreation area for children.
The land is located south of the junction of Sevierville Pike and Lancaster Road, across from South Doyle Middle School.
It also lays directly in the path of the state's proposed expansion of the James White Parkway, according to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.
"I think it's a very bold statement about the desire of people in this city and this region to preserve the Urban Wilderness," said Rogero, who does not support the JWP extension project.
TDOT Spokesman Mark Nagi says the state was not informed about the Urban Wilderness expansion and will not comment on the project. He also noted that no decision has been made about whether to move forward with construction, though an announcement is promised in coming weeks.
However, becoming a part of the Legacy Parks Foundation may not keep the land from becoming part of the development.
City Spokesman Jesse Mayshark confirmed that the state can still acquire the land through right of way acquisition processes or eminent domain, just as if it were owned by a private individual.
Rogero was adamant that the specter of the extension not overshadow the impact of the new park.
"You know what, we're not going to talk about James White Parkway today," said Rogero. "Today we're just going to talk about this wonderful gift from the wood family."