Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Hi Bryan,

I actually did not expect a reply to any of my suggestions, thanks for your time.

One thing you may have missed (a third idea I sent, sorry for the steady stream of different e-mails) is I suggested a "mosaic" column of cast concrete, with commissioned mosaic artwork, instead of the brick columns matching the ones at Chilhowee Park. I see this as a way of including public art and increasing public participation / ownership of the project, a major complaint presented to the city recently.

Same thing for maintenance of the plantings – my suggestion is to partner with groups like SEEED Knox on envisioning "green" infrastructure. Also I want to point out that irrigation systems are not equivalent to bioswales / stormwater infiltration / retention tech. Irrigation is a cost for the city – bioswales and stormwater infiltration represent a long-term savings.

My other point is emphasizing "permaculture" type infrastructure creates demand for a workforce to maintain it – thereby spurring economic activity / opportunities for disenfranchised members of the community, not just "public service department" and "horticulture department" or "prison labor" which is what Kasey often is forced to rely on.

What I meant in my comment about "yellow" traffic lights is that the metal casing on the traffic lights in the artist’s rendering are "yellow" rather than "black" (as in paint color) like the new ones on Cumberland Ave.

Also, I’m on the city Greenways Commission for the Fourth District.

I will probably forward my Greenway Pedestrian Refuge comment along to the Greenways Commission.

Do you think there’s any room to be proactive on making a really exemplary "greenway appropriate" street level crossing at Jessamine and Magnolia to Willow?

What I mean is to try and save on future greenway planning / installation – kind of a "two birds, one stone" approach. As you point out, the greenway corridors are conceptual at this point – but we can get "Greenway Quality" crossings first if we plan for it now.

The commission "at large" (not everyone) prefers a routing UNDER Magnolia on a KUB easement, but I think it’s worth acknowledging even if that path were available, some people will prefer to cross at street level at Jessamine / Willow, especially after dark, and it seems to me a logical pedestrian connection from Parkridge Community to the Warehouse District / Old City. A pedestrian refuge would be a welcome amenity as the crossing sits at the bottom of a hill, and vehicles are inclined to pick up speed as they go downhill.

Thanks,

Tanner

On Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 9:39 AM, Bryan Berry <BBerry> wrote:

Tanner,

I am following up with regards to your emailed suggestions about the Magnolia Avenue Streetscape. I tried to provide answers to anything I viewed as a suggestion.

I would like to be sure we’re protecting water quality in First Creek from both thermal and street chemical pollution.

The streetscape plan proposes to introduce landscaping in the median and along sidewalks. This will help reduce rain and stormwater runoff with new vegetation where asphalt is currently located.

I understand that Cumberland Avenue project has a large filter to handle stormwater and filter road pollution entering Third Creek. Is anything like that planned for First Creek?

There are plans to install similar filter units, one for each of the two phases on the Magnolia Ave. project. Final design is still underway.

Is there a "pedestrian refuge" in the median where the greenway will cross?

A greenway coming from an undetermined location on the south side of Magnolia Avenue and connecting to existing greenway in Caswell Park is only conceptual at this stage with no designated route. No pedestrian refuges are proposed within the medians at this time.

The older 2009 plan had some historically appropriate lighting in the artist’s rendering. What happened to that idea?

Lighting will be consistent along Magnolia Avenue with the standard KUB lighting proposed at this time.

I’d like any lighting installed to reduce light pollution – and can you check out the "temperature" to go with a warmer light than a cooler light? Magnolia has a neat, amber glow to it now – putting in LED lights will completely change that to look more akin to "a strip mall in outer space."

The proposed plan calls for overhead lighting with the standard KUB fixtures and smaller pedestrian scale lighting intermittingly along the sidewalk.

Why are the traffic lights yellow in the artist’s rendering?

I am not certain which rendering you are referring to. The streetscape perspective used at the public meeting and PowerPoint has green on the traffic lights.

Who is going to care for the flowering plants pictured?

The City of Knoxville Public Service department as well as the City of Knoxville arborist will periodically assess the plants and trees overtime and replace as needed.

What will prevent the median plantings from becoming toast? Can you design some rain garden features in the median, or on the sides, to capture and slowly release water?

An irrigation system will be incorporated into the landscape design plan. Also, ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, and flowering ground cover will be located in the medians and selected based on hardiness and tolerance.

The street trees at Hall of Fame Drive got replaced something like 3 or four times, really tragic given how much care goes into raising a good sized tree for planting. The trees that survived still seem to be struggling to take root in highly compacted, clay soil. What will prevent that from happening to the plantings on Magnolia Avenue?

An irrigation plan along with hardy plants and trees will help with the life of proposed plantings.

Can you incorporate "green" features like pervious pavement, stormwater bump-outs, stormwater trench, etc?

These ideas will be passed along to the consultant to incorporate where “green” features are possible.

Can you try and incorporate "edible" plantings? Right now it kind of looks like a generic streetscape. Try and add some character. See if you can put in some edible landscaping to address the food desert concern.

The consultant is researching examples of where this has been done successfully in other areas across the country and also working with the City of Knoxville’s Urban Forester Kasey Krouse.

If I missed something in my responses please let me know.

Thanks,

Bryan Berry

Project Manager

Office of Redevelopment

City of Knoxville

400 Main St., Ste 655

Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865-215-2543

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2016 10:45 AM
To: Bryan Berry
Subject: Re: Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Thanks for including my "late" comments!

I appreciate your commitment to transparency in the public engagement process.

-Tanner

On Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 10:37 AM, Bryan Berry <BBerry> wrote:

Tanner,

Thank you for providing feedback on the Magnolia Avenue Streetscapes Proposal. Your comments, along with others we received have been compiled and are available for review by the public here.

We are working on providing written responses to suggestions and questions from the comments in the near future. I will notify everyone when this takes place. I also added your name to the list of emails for updates and notifications on the Magnolia Avenue Streetscape Proposal process.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Bryan Berry

Project Manager

Office of Redevelopment

City County Building

400 Main St., Ste 655

Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865-215-2543

bberry

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2016 12:56 AM
To: Bryan Berry
Subject: Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Hi Brian,

I did not see a lot of changes in the Magnolia Avenue plan from the April 2014 version. I didn’t attend the January meeting, so perhaps I missed something.

I do have some comments based on reviewing the documents online on my own.

First I want to address some of the recently promoted ideas concerning the "historically black community."

The neighborhoods along Magnolia Avenue are in fact "historically integrated" and it’s somewhat disparaging to see some promote the idea that my choice to live in East Knoxville is a threat to black livelihoods or black culture.

I’ve made a home on Chestnut Ridge in the Parkridge Community adjacent to Magnolia Avenue since 2007.

My home was built by a white man in 1935, who lived here with his wife Hazel and their adopted son. The 1940 census reveals many of his neighbors were of African American heritage when he built his home. Today, a few of my nearby neighbors include one hispanic family, two black families, two older white gay men, one white old timer, a white family with kids, a devout jewish guy, a devout muslim guy, a family of four, and the guy with the booming sound system and rims.

You can see why I’m surprised to learn that my community is being "whitewashed" by the proposed public investment in the hitherto crumbling Magnolia Avenue corridor.

Black or white, gay or straight, sinner or saint, all residents benefit from an upgrade to our area’s main transit route. Along with the "complete streets" concept that promotes physical activity, numerous studies have shown the benefits of street trees for reducing stormwater runoff – and I’ve read studies suggesting street trees not only clear the air, but improve people’s mental well being. I know I’m happier around trees.

That any stakeholder would refuse the addition of trees, bike lanes, and a more "livable" city is beyond my ability to understand.

I know there’s a lot of frustration about levels of both public and private investment in East Knoxville. I personally have concerns about the number of greenway miles and public green spaces in East Knoxville, with respect to population density and weighed against amenities in other areas of the city. There are certainly issues of crime, blight, and economic opportunities to address.

However, I can’t see how those important issues are addressed by opposing much needed "TLC" for Magnolia Avenue, one step of many towards reversing the trend of shuttering businesses on Magnolia.

With that discussion out of the way, let me just list some concerns I have regarding what I see in the plans – please forgive if any of these items were addressed in the in-person meeting that I did not attend:

I would like to be sure we’re protecting water quality in First Creek from both thermal and street chemical pollution.

I understand that Cumberland Avenue project has a large filter to handle stormwater and filter road pollution entering Third Creek. Is anything like that planned for First Creek?

Is there a "pedestrian refuge" in the media where the greenway will cross?

I’m a fan of reduced costs and energy efficienty, but in the artists’ rendering it looks like LED lights.

The older 2009 plan had some historically appropriate lighting in the artist’s rendering. What happened to that idea?

I’d like any lighting installed to reduce light pollution – and can you check out the "temperature" to go with a warmer light than a cooler light? Magnolia has a neat, amber glow to it now – putting in LED lights will completely change that to look more akin to "a strip mall in outer space."

Why are the traffic lights yellow in the artist’s rendering?

Who is going to care for the flowering plants pictured?

What will prevent the median plantings from becoming toast? Can you design some rain garden features in the median, or on the sides, to capture and slowly relase water?

The street trees at Hall of Fame Drive got replaced something like 3 or four times, really tragic given how much care goes into raising a good sized tree for planting. The trees that survived still seem to be struggling to take root in highly compacted, clay soil. What will prevent that from happening to the plantings on Magnolia Avenue?

Can you incorporate "green" features like pervious pavement, stormwater bump-outs, stormwater trench, more here: http://www.phillywatersheds.org/what_were_doing/green_infrastructure/tools

Can you try and incorporate "edible" plantings? For example, blueberries as shrub, service berry as a shrub / tree. I’m not a fan of ornamentals.

There is some interest in East Knoxville being the "arts and garden" district of the scruffy city. People who lived in the historic area gardened in backyards. They do today. The street should reflect "garden."

Right now it kind of looks like a generic streetscape. Try and add some character. See if you can put in some edible landscaping to address the food desert concern.

Maintaining those plantings and the green infrastructure could possibly create some of the job opportunities the more vocal activists are concerned about.

Make the street lamps solar powered and you have even more "green" infrastructure for skilled workers to tend.

Finally – if a streetscape upgrade is tough now – wait till you try your connector from Cherry to MLK which actually puts people out of a home. I commented back in 2014 that’s a bad idea – you’re just going to have people flying through a new thoroughfare. New streets don’t build community.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

I do think there’s room for improvement in the design details – but as the old saying goes – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

-Tanner

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About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on March 17, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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