Knoxville, Tennessee. The South. Home of plantation porches and sweet tea.
Land of greenways, rivers, lakes, mountains, parks and bike trails.
Summertime and there’s plenty of outdoor activities, fishing, hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming to name a few.
Your city and county tax dollars are at work to help maintain all of these wonderful avenues of adventure and sport, but as a registrant, you are excluded from taking advantage of many of these activities. Your almighty tax dollars aren’t working for you at all.
The city of Knoxville is approximately 104 sq. miles, Knox County is 526 sq. miles. There are more than 100 miles of greenway trails in Knoxville! Yes, that’s 100 miles of walking and biking trails that part of a registrant’s tax dollars are used to maintain, but that registrants can’t access because “greenways” as these trails are called, are off limits to registrants.
There are 88 parks and 45 greenways that wind throughout Knoxville. If you study the registry zoning map, registrants are excluded from living or working in much of this urban city because there are hiking and biking paths or small green areas designated as “parks” throughout much of the town.
But this is not exclusive to Knoxville. Many towns across the country seem to be adding more bike paths and tiny parks throughout communities. Knoxville is currently in the planning stages to add another 4 miles of paved trails to their greenway system. The term “park” is now being used to designate anything from a postage stamp size piece of green lawn in the middle of the town square to the mountainous terrain of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In Tennessee, there are many parks that include marinas for boat launching. Because the marina is technically within a park, registrants can’t launch their boats or even board someone else’s boat at the marina because they’d have to be “inside the park limits” to do so, and parks are “off-limits.”
We all love parks, waterways, bikepaths. Especially in the summer.
What ‘we’ don’t love is the exclusion of certain members of our society from those places, certain taxpaying members, like registrants.
So why are registrants excluded from these areas?
Safety. That’s always the default answer by local government officials when questioned as to why registrants are denied access to certain areas. Safety.
But safety from whom?
In Knoxville the greenways are regularly patroled by police patrols and greenway bicycle patrols, and yet, there have still been the occassional assault, not to mention a couple of fatal attacks on the greenways and within the parks.
None of the attacks or assaults were by registrants.
The Knoxville Police Department maintains that despite the few incidents of crime that have taken place, they are “confident in saying that the parks and trails in Knoxville are safe.”
So, if they are safe and registrants haven’t been the cause of the crimes that have occurred, why then are they the only ones excluded from using the bike paths and parks that everyone else uses?
That’s the only answer officials have. But worse than that, they have no statistics, no empirical evidence, nothing to back up their illogical logic that denying registrants access to bikepaths, parks or greenways, keeps anyone safer.
It’s time for our states, our communities to admit that they’ve got it all wrong. No one’s laying blame, it’s not their fault, they were misled and fed faulty information regarding registrants and reoffense rates. Let’s correct the misinformation that has been the basis of the registry all these years, misinformation that has led to denying registrants the freedom to enjoy the great outdoors, just like anyone else.
False claims of “safety” as the reason to push through ever increasing zoning restrictions that target registrants is no longer justifiable.
It’s summertime and the livin’ should be easy, for all of us.