Jonesborough constructing new park, name offers local history lesson and honors former president

Jonathan Roberts • May 17, 2020 at 5:00 AM

The town of Jonesborough is adding more green space.

After serving as the town’s garage for several decades, a parcel of land between North Lincoln Avenue and Longview Drive is being turned into a public park with the help of a $500,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

“This park has a mixed-use design that I think will be attractive to all age groups,” said Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff, who also said the park will give people another place to gather outdoors and distance as the country continues to deal with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“It would’ve been a home run pre-COVID, but I believe it will be a major home run post-COVID because this is what people, I think, are yearning for,” Rosenoff said. “This park will be an absolute home run with its features.”

Outgoing Town Administrator Bob Browning, who has overseen the project since its inception, said the TDEC grant was “critical” in making the park a reality.

“They were very favorable about it, and it scored very high,” Browning said of TDEC’s response to the town’s plan, which was developed by Virginia Tech.

The town’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to name it Lincoln Park at the May 11 meeting, a nod to former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and his quote about Jonesborough that’s become a piece of local lore, regardless of whether he really said it or not.

After the Union defeat in the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, the Union general in command at Knoxville was ordered to send reinforcements, but instead fell back to Jonesborough. After hearing of this, Lincoln reportedly was overheard saying “Jonesborough? Jonesborough? Damn Jonesborough!”

In his recommendation to the board, Browning wrote naming the park after Lincoln would “certainly be commendable, and it would give us an opportunity to commemorate his famous quote.” Browning joked he only inserted that part into the recommendation to “see if the board would actually read it,” but it still makes for a fun look at a piece of Jonesborough lore.

As for the park itself, Rosenoff said he hopes parks like Lincoln Park will bring people to the town and inspire them to shop local or potentially move to the area.

“As a (grandparent) I’m thinking I’m going to take my grandson and I’m going to enjoy a park, but as an administrator I’m also thinking, ‘what an attractive park like we’ll have does is it brings people in and, again, it just builds the economy’,” Rosenoff said.

Browning said the goal is for the park to be completed by the end of August, but the time frame is dependent on the weather and COVID-19.