Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, October 6, 2023

Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors unveils Montague Park plan

Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors has unveiled a plan that re-envisions Montague Park as a premiere destination for residents and visitors. - Artwork provided

Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors has unveiled a collaborative plan for Montague Park the department says will transform the city’s largest downtown park into “a beautiful, accessible, unified and animated public space” that provides “a premiere destination for residents and visitors.”

The proposal enhances the spaces of the park’s two primary users – Sculpture Fields at Montague Park and the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation.

A renewed Sculpture Fields – an outdoor sculpture park with a collection of over 50 works by world-renowned artists – will build on the legacy and vision of the late John Henry, who launched a grassroots effort in 2006 to create a sculpture park of international stature.

Enhanced planting and pathways, as well as new ravines and bridges, will provide an arboretum-like setting with outdoor garden galleries. A new event lawn and sculptural stage will offer a space for events and community programming.

Expanded facilities for the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation – a nonprofit community football club serving socio-economically diverse local youth – include three new artificial play fields with lighting, spectator seating areas and support facilities, including locker rooms, a CrossFit studio and vending spaces.

The fields, which will be open for community use outside of practice times, will also serve as a space for larger events.

The Heart, a new space in the center of the park, will include slides, swings, nature play and scrambles for a range of ages and abilities. Trails and overlook bridges will bring visitors up, down and across new landforms with views of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and downtown.

The Community Front Porch, a new main entrance and civic edge along Polk Street, will serve as a park within a park. A series of pavilions under shaded arbors running the length of the park will provide seating, picnic, grilling areas, a splash pad, outdoor games, restrooms and market space.

Sitewide improvements will include:

n A four-mile pedestrian path and trail network that will include a one-mile loop, four bridges and two crossings

n Bike and pedestrian paths along Polk Street, 23rd Street and 18th Street that extend beyond the park

n New pedestrian entrances on every side of the park

n Native planting, including canopy trees to increase shade

n Stormwater management ravines and bioswales to capture and treat the site’s runoff

n New parking along Polk and 23rd streets

n Benches and water fountains, lighting that extends park use into the evening and new signage

n Over 25 locations for new sculptures

Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors and Chattanooga Design Studio led the planning process, which began in early 2023 with a design consultant team led by Reed Hilderbrand, an award-winning landscape architecture practice based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut.

A steering committee composed of representatives from the two leaseholders (Sculpture Fields at Montague Park and the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation), as well as the Main Street Farmers Market, Clinica Medicos, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation and Chattanooga Parks & Outdoors, supported the process.

Public engagement included stakeholder focus groups throughout the planning process. Groups included adjacent property owners, community groups, city leadership and developers.

The project will cost between $80-100 million and be implemented over the course of the next three to five years. The Chattanooga Football Club Foundation is anticipating initial improvements to its fields in 2024.

The Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation and the Robert Finley Stone Foundation provided support for the planning stage of Montague Park.

The project website is located at www.MontaguePark.com.