City Council Approves Capital Budget With Almost $20 Million For Central Avenue Extension; Opponents Say It Harms Lincoln Park, Native American Site

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The City Council on Tuesday approved a five-year capital budget that includes almost $20 million for the Central Avenue Extension between the current end at Erlanger Hospital to Amnicola Highway across from the Boathouse Restaurant.

However, opponents of the roadway say it would harm Lincoln Park - the only park for blacks during segregation days - as well as the site of the Citico Temple Mound.

The group said an official of the U.S. Interior Department has ruled that sections of Lincoln Park are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of its importance to the social and recreational life of the city's African American community from 1918 until very recent times.

The ruling is that the section of the park east of Park Drive (where the ball field, tennis courts and concession area are) would be eligible, but not the section to the left (where the swimming pool is).

Blythe Bailey, city transportation director, said it is planned to take the road to the left of Park Drive and not infringe on the historic section. He said the National Register designation will not affect the city route, but will add to the project requirements and cost.

Mr. Bailey said it will be one lane each way with a 25-30 mph limit and include bike and pedestrian lanes along with full landscaping.

Officials said $200,000 will be spent on a Lincoln Park feasibility study and another $1.8 million to carry out the plan.

The city has set aside $9,985,231 for the mile-long road that has to contend with a railroad and a creek along the way. The federal government is due to pay 80 percent of the project.

The city is also spending $6,750,000 on a Central Avenue interceptor sewer and $3 million on separating a sewer that currently carries both sewage and surface runoff.

Tom Kunesh, a foe of the project, said it will bring 1,000 cars a day past Lincoln Park and begin "the whitification of Lincoln Park."

He said it is being built for the benefit of 1,000 residents at new condo and upscale apartment projects along the route at a site across Citico Creek from Lincoln Park. 

He said the new highway will tunnel under the railroad and require a new bridge over Citico Creek.

Officials said the Lincoln Park site is now owned by Erlanger, but it will go to the city in a land swap prior to the city spending any more on it.




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