This evening, Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors joined Chattanooga Design Studio, Montague Sculpture Fields, Chattanooga Football Club Foundation, Clinicos Medicos, landscape architects with Reed Hilderbrand and HK Architects and the community, to unveil the vision plan for Montague Park.
The Montague Park Vision Plan is a collaborative and forward-looking plan that elevates Chattanooga’s largest downtown park as a beautiful, accessible, unified, and animated public space, creating a premiere destination for residents and visitors. The vision promotes elements of art & culture, recreation & diversity, community and health. The proposal enhances the spaces of the park’s two primary users, Sculpture Fields at Montague Park and the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation. The Heart and Front Porch adds new programs and community uses, unifying the property into a cohesive public space that will bring ecology, art, food, and neighborhoods together.
“The Montague Park Vision Plan is transformational – intentionally designed to unleash the
unifying forces of entertainment, sports, and food amidst greenscaping that is quintessentially
Chattanoogan,” said Mayor Tim Kelly. “Montague will become the place for community building
in the heart of Chattanooga and one of America’s most envied urban parks.”
“I can’t think of another top 100 US city with a world-class outdoor art non-profit, local food leaders, community health champions, and a youth sports foundation together building an iconic public park and garden,” said Scott Martin, Administrator for Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors. “This project is Chattanooga rediscovering its capacity to work at scale, building a city around world-class public parks and green spaces. Imagine Chattanooga in 50 years with this extraordinary public garden park (and its surrounding neighborhoods) as one of our iconic landmarks – on par with Ruby Falls, Rock City, the Aquarium, and the Riverpark. This park will be a demonstration of how our nation’s best cities build their futures around beautiful and fun public green spaces.”
A renewed Sculpture Fields, an outdoor sculpture park with a collection of over 50 works by world-renowned artists, builds on the legacy and vision of the late John Henry to elevate what started as a grassroots effort in 2006 to create a sculpture park of international stature. Enhanced planting and pathways, and new ravines and bridges, provide an arboretum-like setting with outdoor ‘garden galleries’ for experiencing art in the landscape. A new event lawn and sculptural stage provides a generous and flexible space for events and community programming.
Expanded facilities for the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation, a non-profit community football club serving socio-economically diverse local youth, include three new artificial play fields with lighting, a range of spectator seating areas, and support facilities, including locker rooms, CrossFit studio, and vending space. The fields, which will be open for community use outside of practice times, can also serve as flexible space for larger and periodic community events programming.
The Heart, a new space in the center of the park with an emphasis on exploration and immersion, will include play elements like slides, swings, nature play, and scrambles for a range of ages and abilities. Trails and overlook bridges will bring visitors up, down, and across new landforms with views of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and downtown.
The Community Front Porch, a new main entrance and civic edge along Polk Street, serves as a ‘park within a park’, an everyday destination for neighbors and visitors. A series of pavilions under shaded arbors running the length of the park will provide seating, picnic, BBQ areas, splash pad, outdoor games, restrooms, market space, and maintenance/volunteer support facilities.
“The Vision Plan brings together the park’s major programs and activates the interstitial spaces of the park to complement these uses with other elements essential to engaging the neighbors and residents of Chattanooga.“ said, John Kett, Managing Principal of Reed Hilderbrand.
The Montague Park vision falls in line with the recently passed Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors Plan (POP), which provides specific guidance to measurably improve the community’s health, wellness, landscape, and economy through improved public parks. Montague Park’s new plan intentionally builds on three of those top POP recommendations. First, before building new parks, the City should take care of the existing parks, improving their beauty, care, and functionality. Second, make park improvements possible by working in partnership with community leaders and organizations. Third, create an arboretum that brings the beauty of Tennessee Valley plant communities into our downtown core. Doing so, will improve air quality, add shade, and bring “natural air conditioning” through forests that help mitigate the impacts of the heat island felt most accurately in our most distressed communities and neighborhoods.
- A site-wide pedestrian path & trail network, including a 1-mile park loop 4 bridges, 2 crossings, and nearly 4 miles of new paths and trails
- Multi-modal (bike and pedestrian) paths along Polk Street, 23rd Street, and 18th Street extending beyond the park, building stronger connections to adjacent neighborhoods
- The City’s first arboretum and garden park
- New pedestrian entrances on all sides of the park, increasing access and connections to neighborhoods and commercial corridors on all sides
- Native planting throughout, including canopy trees to increase shade, and fruiting and flowering shrubs and grasslands to increase ecological diversity and urban habitat
- Stormwater management ravines and bioswales to capture and treat the site’s runoff, addressing nearby isolated flooding and reducing impact on the city’s piped infrastructure system beyond the park
- New parking along Polk & 23rd Streets
- Site-wide furnishings (including benches and water fountains), lighting that extends park use from morning through evening, and new signage & wayfinding throughout
- Over 25 locations for new sculpture acquisitions
Process & Engagement
The planning process, which began in early 2023, was led by Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors and the Chattanooga Design Studio, with a design consultant team led by Reed Hilderbrand. The process was also supported and guided by a Steering Committee composed of representatives from the two leaseholders (Sculpture Fields at Montague Park, and the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation), and the Main Street Farmer’s Market, Clinica Medicos, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation, and Chattanooga Parks & Outdoors.
Public engagement included stakeholder focus group meetings throughout the planning process. Groups included adjacent property owners, community groups, city staff & leadership, and developers. The goal was to understand opportunities for synergies between other surrounding initiatives, review design proposals, and integrate feedback.
Broader public engagement was captured via a project website, which provided a history of the park, outlined its brownfield conditions, and shared updates about the planning process. It also hosted a bi-lingual community survey, the results of which were integrated into the Vision Plan. Two in-person and bilingual community workshops were held to share progress and gather feedback. The Chattanooga Design Studio also set up booths at several community events to build further awareness of the plan and gather public input.
“During this process, we partnered intently with Sculpture Fields at Montague Park and the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation, in addition to local community leaders and stakeholders.” Said Eric Myers with Chattanooga Design Studio. “These relationships have helped to guide a process where hundreds of individuals have provided feedback and input.”
The cost of the project will range between $80 to 100 million with a goal of being implemented over the course of 3-5 years. Initial improvements to the CFCF fields are anticipated in 2024. Support for this stage of Montague Park planning has been provided by The Lyndhurst Foundation, the Benwood Foundation, and the Robert Finley Stone Foundation. Support for the vertical designs provided by HK Architects For more information and the full vision plan, please visit the project website at www.MontaguePark.com