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Harrell Road Stormwater Park

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A Legacy Park Treasure
In 2009 Legacy Parks Foundation was given an abandoned tract of land by a local developer. The property, located at 7221 Harrell Road in northeast Knox County, was a remnant from previous development and consisted of floodplain along Beaver Creek that had been used for soil mining and a barrow pit. It was mostly exposed clay and scrub growth and was considered unbuildable. Forming a partnership with Knox County Stormwater Management and Knox County Parks and Recreation, Legacy Parks received a $5,000 grant for a concept plan by the East Tennessee Community Design Center. After several public meetings the concept plan was approved and work began on the county’s first stormwater management park.

Located in the Karns' community, Harrell Road Stormwater Nature Park is a model for stormwater management practices such as rain gardens, wetland ponds, and riparian buffers. The Harrell Road Park project converted a derelict tract of land into a sustainable, passive public park incorporating best practices in stormwater management and providing a classic example of green infrastructure techniques. The park consists of both naturally occurring and manmade wetlands, lowlands, and ridges. A rain garden was constructed to capture runoff from the parking lot that features porous asphalt, pervious concrete, and pavers (which, unlike paved surfaces, allow some water to be absorbed back into the earth). As water enters the site it is slowed and held back by check dams, allowing plants in the rain gardens to filter nutrients, sediments, and pollutants out of the water before it enters the stream or pond. Constructed wetland areas allow for further holding capacity of runoff and provide an opportunity for water to collect, to provide habitat, and recharge local aquifers.

Nearly 4,000 feet of gravel pathways have been created and 100 trees secured by a TAEP Tree Grant, with matching funds from Water Resources, LLC, were planted throughout the park. The entire site was sprayed with leaf compost manufactured topsoil with a seed mixture containing native grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs. Interpretive signs installed along the paths explain the various green practices in the park.

The Harrell Road Stormwater Demonstration Park provides our development community with a site where they can view stormwater green infrastructure best management practices. In addition, the project serves as a public teaching tool and provides a neighborhood park within the Knox County Parks system.

Knox County’s Harrell Road Park was recently awarded the 2018 Environmental-Conservation Award by the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, a non-profit organization that recognizes and honors parks throughout the nation. The first-place “award of excellence” is presented to parks that recognize an “exceptional effort to acquire, restore, preserve, operate, or develop unique or significant conservation and natural areas or programs.” Bordered by Beaver Creek and a large residential development, Harrell Road Park takes in stormwater pollutants entering the creek, increases stormwater infiltration, replenishes groundwater stores and alleviates localized flooding.

Paddling: The kayak/canoe launch connects to the Beaver Creek Water Trail. The Beaver Creek Water Trail is a 6-mile stretch of Beaver Creek, running from Harrell Road Stormwater Demonstration park to the Northwest Sports Complex and is a mix of light rapids and peaceful, placid water. Paddlers will want to drop a car off at the Karns Senior Center to use at the end of the water trail. Note: at this time, the end of the five-mile water trail isn't well marked and the Karns Senior Center parking lot is a short trek through a field — but if you're up for an adventure, it's worth the hike. Looking for folks to paddle with, check out the Beaver Creek Kayak Club!


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