Sports, recreational activities, walking trails abound in local area
Parks are the pride of the region and those in McMinn and Meigs counties feature an inviting range of attractions for those of all ages and stages to enjoy.
The largest park in the area is the 165-acre Athens Regional Park, located on Decatur Pike near Interstate 75.
The park is now home to the city-owned Southeast Tennessee Trade and Conference Center for indoor gatherings and the county owned McMinn County Layman Agricultural Exposition Center for outdoor events.
The park is also home to the AYSO soccer league, three soccer and five softball fields, two small lakes, a 1,000-foot trail and a one-mile loop road for walkers, a mountain bike trail and a 250-seat picnic pavilion with a caterer's kitchen.
Another premiere park for the city of Athens is Veterans Memorial Park (formerly Sunset Park), whose newly redesigned plaza was commemorated before an audience of 1,000 in June 2002, including Under Secretary of the Navy Susan M. Livingstone and more than 300 visiting veterans from around the country.
One of the highlights of the plaza is a monument dedicated to Navy Lt. Charles R. Ware, an Athens native and Battle of Midway hero who had a gearing-class destroyer, the USS Charles R. Ware, named after him. The dedication ceremony in June 2002 was attended by Ware's family members and hundreds of former USS Ware shipmates, including Estée Lauder chairman Leonard Lauder.
Other features of the plaza include a brick walkway bearing the names of both local and out-of-state veterans, five granite monuments dedicated to the five branches of service and a central globe fountain made of black granite.
Other parks and recreational facilities managed by the Athens Parks and Recreation Department include:
Knox Park: Home of the Athens Dizzy Dean, the youth baseball games are also played at Fisher and Gilbert fields. Knox Park also includes two picnic pavilions, and a small lake.
City Park: Picnic areas, a softball field, playground equipment and plenty of wide open spaces highlight this much-used facility, adjacent to City Park Elementary School. Across the street, recreational facilities adjoining Athens Junior High School feature new multipurpose courts for basketball, tennis and roller blading.
Ingleside: Playground equipment adjacent to the elementary school, two baseball backstops, an outdoor basketball court, eight tennis courts and a pool are located in this complex.
Heritage Park: Playground equipment, a softball field, outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts and a covered picnic area are included in this complex on South Jackson Street.
Cook Park: Located on Cook Drive, this park offers lighted basketball courts, a picnic pavilion and playground equipment. The Cook Civic Garden and Park Association has been heavily involved in recent improvements to the park. On July 4, the Cook Alumni Association dedicated the J.L. Cook School monument.
North City Park: This newly-refurbished park is adjacent to North City School. It has playground equipment, a basketball court and a multipurpose court.
Swimming pools: The city also has community pools located in the City Park, Ingleside and North City areas. Ingleside pool also features a double-slide.
For more information about park facilities or special events, contact the Athens Parks and Recreation Department at 744-2704.
Etowah also operates several parks and community centers. The city's garden club has developed the People's Park, a small passive facility located on the site of the old People's Bank building at 9th Street and Tennessee Avenue. The club is also in the process of developing numerous other areas in the city. Etowah parks include:
L&N Park: Located in the area around the L&N Depot, the park features a shaded walking trail, two lighted pavilions and a horseshoe pit. The depot's park is host to numerous activities and events throughout the year. There are craft shows, car exhibits and the Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. Depot rooms and grounds can be reserved by contacting City Hall at 263-2202. Picnic areas also are available.
Community Center Park: Features at this park include a playground, a picnic pavilion, indoor basketball court, tennis courts, meeting rooms and kitchen facilities. The pavilion, dining area and meeting rooms can be reserved.
6th Street Park: Facilities here include two baseball fields and swimming pool.
Harold R. Cox Park: Located on 8th Street, the park features a football field.
For more information on Etowah parks, contact Etowah Parks and Recreation Director Larry Ode Lanning at 263-7031.
Other area parks include:
Calhoun: Hiwassee Meadowlands Park, a city owned park operated by the Hiwassee Meadowlands Association on Highway 163, provides a playground, walking trails, a lighted softball field, picnic area and covered stage. The park may be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis by calling City Hall at 336-2348.
Englewood: The Community Park provides residents with picnic areas, walking trails and tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, a baseball field and a pool. In 2000, the city built the park's first soccer field, which expanded into five fields in 2002. Also in 2000, a picnic pavilion and stage were added to the park, followed by a paved parking lot in 2001. For more information on the park, contact Raymond Roach in the City Hall at 887-7224.
Niota: The city has developed Kenneth Gable Memorial Park across from the depot building, which serves as City Hall. Playground equipment, a basketball court and a walking trail are in place at the park. Thirty-nine Bradford Pear and oak trees have been planted along the walking trail and in the park. The Depot can be rented for special occasions. The charge is $50 for both residents and non-residents. To reserve the building, call City Hall at 568-2584.
Decatur: Located behind Meigs Middle School, Decatur City Park features basketball and tennis courts, picnic tables and a walking trail. For more information, call City Hall at 334-5716.
Meigs County: The county's parks include the Jackie Hennessee Memorial Park and the Meigs County Recreation Park. Both feature baseball and soccer fields. The Watts Bar Park features basketball and tennis courts and playground equipment. For information, call 334-5850.
The Meigs County fairgrounds, located next to Decatur City Park, is leased to the Meigs County Fair Association and features a show barn and exhibit center.