About this Project
A design team from the Community Design Center of East Tennessee created a Master Plan for downtown Lake City that recognizes the City’s unique historic character and promotes infill development and great walkability to draw people back downtown.
Lake City was originally known as Coal Creek. It was the site of the Coal Creek War of 1891-1892, which resulted when miners rebelled against the state law that allowed convict labor to replace them. The rebellion ended in the miners’ favor with the state ending the program. Two infamous mine explosions in 1902 and 1911 killed 268 men. Coal Creek Coal Company, the oldest mining company in the state, closed in 1955. The completion of Norris Dam in 1936 by the Tennessee Valley Authority spurred the town to change its name from Coal Creek to Lake City to capitalize on the project. Completion of Interstate 75 in the 1970s led to commercial activity moving near the interstate and a decline in the downtown. Today the town has two distinct districts: the newer commercial developments along the interstate and the original residential and commercial core along the railroad tracks and Main Street.
The focus area for this project was Main Street (U.S. Highway 25W) as it passes the existing library, baseball field and into downtown Lake City.
The Community Design Center, with the help of volunteer professionals, created a site plan that reflected the community input that was gathered through a public meeting on September 19, 2013, at the City Hall. The master plan stops at Fourth Street, but the proposed improvements can easily continue through out the downtown.
Redevelop vacant and underutilized land.
The design team’s recommendations for Lake City’s community area, which consists of a community building, baseball field and library, are to renovate and expand the existing building, define existing parking by adding islands and landscaping, and rework the pavilion to allow a new drive to a planned farmers market. The farmers market will occupy an existing covered shed, which will include the addition of new signage, parking, a reworked entrance drive and two half-court basketball courts. A proposed greenway and pedestrian bridge will connect this area to the downtown. South of the existing community area, the Utility Board property that is for sale should be redeveloped. The property is ideal for commercial development with parking in the back.
Capitalize on the unique identity of our communities
Plans for downtown Lake City focus on preservation of historic buildings, and an emphasis on Lake City’s coal mining history. Lake City holds a small-town charm that is important to maintain. Plans include a welcome sign for those crossing the bridge into downtown, and the addition of sidewalks to the bridge. Additional parking should be included behind City Hall to replace parking removed to develop the entry.
Encourage physical activity.
To the east of downtown Lake City, existing baseball fields are to be connected back to Main Street with new 8-foot-wide sidewalks. A vacant field, currently used for ad-hoc parking, can be converted to a landscaped parking lot for 40 cars, providing better access to these amenities. To the right of the parking lot, a new splash pad and covered pavilion are proposed. Existing parking next to the elementary school should be reworked to add a new bay for 12 cars. An existing road between the baseball fields should be closed to motor vehicles and connected to the proposed greenway. All of these measures emphasize the developing character of downtown while also promoting healthy lifestyles and a more pedestrian-friendly environment.
Create more walking and bicycling opportunities
Some of the top suggestions from the public for this project were calming traffic and attractive lighting for improved safety and adding sidewalks. The plan proposed a new greenway trail linking neighborhoods and parks, as well as downtown streetscaping. At main intersections, stamped asphalt and clearly striped crosswalks help delineate pedestrian crossings.
Strengthen existing cities and towns
With improvements such as the extension and enhancement of existing sidewalks, residents of Lake City can be connected across the downtown area to various shops, restaurants, and community activities. Residents told the design team that they wanted to see the addition of an old country general store, which could be among the renovated or new infill buildings on Main Street.