- Laurie Dworak
A Keystone for Red Bank
by Laurie Dworak
I remember what Chattanooga’s North Shore was like before Coolidge Park. It was not a draw for locals, and tourists would roll their windows up and lock the car doors when they drove down Frazier Avenue/Cherokee Blvd.
I also remember what Red Bank was like in that same time frame. Full disclosure – I live in Red Bank now, but I’m not a Red Bank native. I have lived most of my life in the greater Chattanooga area and many of those years just outside the Red Bank city limits, and in North Chattanooga.
In the 1970s and early 80s, Red Bank truly was a destination! Football games at the High School, hanging out at the skating rink, and so many shops and restaurants!
But then things changed.
Traffic patterns changed, the High School moved over to Morrison Springs, and the rest of the world moved on to other things. But poor little Red Bank dwindled – restaurants and shops closed; Red Bank turned into Dead Bank. But thanks to Coolidge Park, Frazier Avenue and Cherokee Blvd are on the to-do list for anyone vacationing in the area. Locals benefit from all those options, as well.
Things in Red Bank are starting to look up for us again, thanks in part to the shortage of affordable retail rentals in North Chattanooga. Businesses are moving back and people are once again driving to Red Bank rather than around it.
But if we really want to return to the days when Red Bank was a destination point, we need a keystone landmark of Coolidge Park’s caliber. We have a unique opportunity at the former high/middle school site, to create a large-scale, multi-use community focal point that will provide ample space to host events that would draw in people from all over the southeast. And between these big events, this large park would enrich the lives of all our citizens in ways that the smaller, special-use parks in town simply can’t.
For our town to cultivate a greater sense of community, we need a large public space that can accommodate many people and many actives at the same time. It needs to be centrally located, easily walked to by most residents, and highly visible so that new residents don’t have to search to find it. Our keystone community park needs to be at 3715 Dayton Blvd.