In 2018, Blue Water Industries donated a beautiful 8.5-acre parcel of land along the French Broad River to Legacy Parks. The property sits across the river from and overlooks the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on John Sevier Highway.
At the time of the donation, local veterans’ groups were voicing a need for a gathering place to honor and celebrate our veterans. The East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery traditionally hosts up to three services per day, precluding the ability to host other events. The proximity of the donated property to the cemetery provided the perfect location to create this place for reflection, commemoration, and celebration.
This park will be a place for veterans and their families to pay tribute to their brothers and sisters that have gone before them.
With help from the veterans’ organizations and the East Tennessee Community Design Center, a design was created that includes:
- A pavilion for gatherings and events to accommodate up to 250 people
- An overlook with a panoramic view of the cemetery and the French Broad River
- A one-eighth mile ADA memorial walk with service memorial locations
- A reflective garden for more private or smaller gathering
- A natural surface nature trail extending from the overlook and looping through the woods
- A memorial wall to honor individual veterans
It was important to Dr. Collier to keep as many native plants and trees as possible, in order to maintain the natural character of the property. Every element of the park, including the nature trail was designed and constructed to have the least impact on the existing habitats.
Legacy Parks began fundraising in 2017 and was awarded a $200,000 Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to fund the development of Collier Preserve. The TVA Retirees Association supported the project by donating $10,000 to fund six benches along the trail.
Construction began in 2020 with special care taken to ensure the park remained natural.
In 2021, 42 trees were planted at Collier Preserve, including six new species, thanks to an Urban Trees Grant from the Tennessee Division of Forestry. The park was designated as a Level 1 Tennessee Certified Arboretum in 2022. View the Collier tree list.
The Knox County Master Gardeners continue to maintain and add native species plantings at Collier Preserve and eradicate invasive species.
The location next to the Powell Branch Library provided a unique opportunity to create a storybook trail. A storybook trail is a fun, educational activity that places the pages from a children’s story along a trail in a community. It is for children of all levels to enjoy the outdoors and read a book with their family and friends. Working with the Knox County Public Library, the permanent storybook trail was opened in 2022 featuring the book Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti.
The park opened in 2021 and was conveyed to Knox County to be owned and managed as a public park.
Once constructed, the park will be owned and managed by Knox County as a public park.
Tennessee Recreational Trails Program, Knox County, Merit Construction, Trey Benefield, S&ME, TVA Retirees Association, Trees Knoxville, Knox County Master Gardeners, Foothills Land Conservancy, Knox County Public Library