Keeping Public Space Public In Knoxville

<p>Downtown Knoxville has seen many improvements in recent years. This column calls on the city to be careful how it lets private interests use downtown's new public spaces.</p>
June 1, 2008, 7am PDT | Nate Berg
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"A vision was developed to return downtown to her rightful place on the throne as the center of our region. We polished up some of her remaining jewels-the Bijou and Tennessee theaters, and Market Square to name a few-and we gave her back some dignity."

"Design guidelines were developed, built on a public common vision to see that special care was given to shepherd downtown toward her next stage of maturity. Downtown's ongoing makeover is being attended to by her own children, Knoxvillians themselves, who are showing a strong interest in her well-being."

"It says something that we have developed some standards and policies about the physical environment here. We've shown we care. We're looking after our matron. But there's more to her than looks. A city is utilitarian. We are redeveloping the space. But how we use that space is equally important. And we need to oversee its use as we are overseeing its renovation."

"When no one really cared what happened downtown (who went there anyway?) things were easier to manage. If someone showed interest in holding an event, the city gladly opened itself. Nothing else was going on anyway. Downtown was on what some thought was her deathbed. And if people wanted to visit, that was very kind. Now that she's on the mend, it's worth looking at how best to put her back to work."

"But let's have some respect, please. Let's not just tart her up and pimp her out."

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Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 in Metro Pulse
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