City allows Fort Kid to die of natural causes
After years of speculation, Knoxville citizens begin to get answers about the future of Fort Kid.
After the city built a modernized Kid Zone play area within walking distance to the old park, and its temporary closure due to adjacent house fires, Knoxville residents have been wondering what the city has planned for the park. Director of Parks and Recreation Joe Walsh explains the city’s plan for the area.
“The way we are handling Fort Kid is as the facility begins to deteriorate, rather than trying to fix up some of these pieces that begin to wear out or break, we’re just going to take them out. So I guess it will slowly become disassembled as the equipment tends to become unsafe or breaks.”
As one of the few remaining all-wooden play structures in the city, Fort Kid is remembered as one of the largest volunteer efforts during its build in 1990. For over the past two decades, this park has been a staple for children living in and around the Knoxville area.
The city built the new $130,000 Kid Zone playground in 2009 based off designs that school kids submitted, along with input from physical education teachers emphasizing the need for upper body stimulation. Still claiming the new park was not meant as a replacement, Walsh compares the amenities to the new park with that of Fort Kid.
“It’s (the new park) got state-of-the-art equipment. It is accessible. It has the hard poured in place rubberized surface underneath it that allows for wheelchairs and people with mobility restrictions to get access to the equipment, where Fort Kid had steps and not really a way that it would be wheelchair accessible. We like that. It’s more visible; it’s down there in the middle of the park, where Fort Kid is secluded among those houses. Parents may feel a little safer.”
Fort Kid touched the lives of thousands of children who visited the downtown area. Fountain City resident Mark Boring fondly recalls the experiences he shared with his children at the site.
“I hate to see Fort Kid tore down but am so glad my kids were able to play there. It was like one of the last of its kind because of wood structures are just not going to last like the new plastic ones, so I don’t blame the city for replacing it. I feel the site should remain for the kids.”
City officials have not yet decided the plan for the site once the equipment has all been taken out. During the interview, Walsh noted some possible structural issues from a retaining wall holding up the park. Further investigation into the issue is needed.