As development booms, space to build parks could be at a premium in Hardin Valley, according to Knox County officials.
But in the Northwest corner of the county, growth is not the only thing zipping along.
“It’s going about 80 to 90 miles per hour,” said Phil Cope, piloting a model airplane.
The Knox County Radio Control Society has been flying these craft at a plot in Melton Hill Park for decades. They lease the land from the county for a small amount of money.
In recent talks with the Parks and Recreation Department, they’ve learned that someday, the county might have to reclaim the land for other uses. The club is currently looking for a new home.
KCRC has built a runway and several shelters for pilots on the plot.
“We see the time coming, probably sooner rather than later, when we’ll need to find a new facility,” said Jeff Prosise, KCRC member.
“As you can see, if you look a Hardin Valley here it’s a lot of space, with a lot of new homes going in,” said Doug Bataille, senior director of Parks and Recreation for the county.
He said as development continues, general use parks become more necessary to serve people living there – and buying large new swatches of land could be too expensive.
"We don't have a huge amount of land out there,” Bataille said. “Melton Hill is really the one piece of land we do have available out there."
Prosise said the club understands the predicament.
“West Knoxville is growing so quickly,” he said. “The time is going to come. They’re going to need soccer fields, football fields, things like that. You know, we’re grateful for the time we had, but we also understand that it’s time to start looking forward.”
The club is working to find a silver lining as well. They hope to grow in their new home.
“Our hope is to find a place where we can build a runway about twice the length of this one,” Prosise said. “Then we can not only enjoy flying these things, but also do events and bring money into the county.”