McKee Foods and the City of Collegedale held the groundbreaking ceremony for Little Debbie Park on August 27. According to a press release from Mike Gloekler, corporate communications and public relations manager at McKee Foods, the park will be constructed adjacent to the Collegedale Commons. It is estimated that the park will be completed in a year.
In an email to the Accent, Gloekler said the McKee family purchased the land from Southern Adventist University specifically to be developed as a park. The design for the park was a joint effort between Collegedale and McKee Foods.
“My family has a long history of enjoying nature and participating in outdoor activities of just about every kind,” said Rusty McKee, executive vice president of manufacturing, in McKee’s press release. “It’s important to us that we preserve some of the beautiful spaces God has given to us here in our hometown, so our neighbors, our friends, our employees and their families can enjoy them together for years to come.”
The press release revealed that the park will be constructed on 10 acres and will feature playground equipment and open spaces for recreational purposes. According to Wayon Hines, city manager/engineer, the park will have a large pavilion with restrooms, connections to the greenway, covered swings and several small pavilions.
“The primary focus is on preserving open green spaces for multiple uses, such as picnicking and pick-up sports games, like football, Frisbee or soccer,” Gloekler said in the release.
Representatives of McKee Foods attending the event included Connie Vaughan, government relations manager and Jake Stone, project manager, and McKee.
Representing the City of Collegedale were Hines and Collegedale City Commissioners. Barge Design Solutions Inc. was represented by Joe Sawyer, vice president and senior landscape architect, and P&C Construction was represented by Nic Cornelison, who serves as president and chief operating officer.
“I cannot begin to tell you how happy and excited we are to see this community project get underway,” McKee said.
Hines said the city is excited about the Little Debbie Park at the Commons.
“… It is donations like this that really move us from a city to a community,” he said.
Residents of Greenbriar Cove, the closest community to the future park, have expressed concerns about construction. As of April 2019, over 200 residents have signed a petition to be more involved in the planning process.
Sharon Coulter, a Greenbriar resident , is excited about the new park, but also has some worries.
“The only thing I wonder about is, the traffic pattern is going to be much heavier. We already have people cutting through to miss four corner’s long lights,” said Coulter.
According to The Chattanoogan, Greenbriar’s Homeowners Association became involved in the commission workshops after Mayor Katie Lamb stated that the residents should have a voice in the planning.