Downtown Knoxville park sculpture faces opposition to preserve trees

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Downtown Knoxville park sculpture faces opposition to preserve trees

After nearly six years, the city of Knoxville is almost ready to break ground on renovations and to install a $1.25 million sculpture at the Cradle of Country Music Park.

But an effort to save several downtown trees could stall the already-delayed project for another six months.

The Knoxville City Council will vote Tuesday on a resolution to pause the Public Arts Committee’s sculpture project to figure out how to preserve mature trees at the park on the northeast corner of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive.

The current Public Art Committee's sculpture project calls for the removal of five mature trees in the Cradle of County Music Park -- a decision community members say will add to the negative effects of downtown's dwindling tree canopy.

In 2018, the Knoxville City Council approved approximately $500,000 for the creation of the “Pier 865” sculpture, an interactive piece featuring a pavilion with winding arches. Once built, it will be the city’s largest and most expensive piece of contemporary public art.

The project requires the removal of five mature willow-oak trees to accommodate installation. There are plans to plant several native trees in the area, but some residents believe this is not enough.

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