Park honors neighborhood hero, celebrates brighter future for children of Lonsdale
Today, the City of Knoxville, Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC) and Gerdau joined with business and community leaders and members of the Lonsdale community to celebrate the grand opening of the Zaevion Dobson Memorial Playground and Park, located near the Lonsdale location where Dobson lost his life protecting friends from gunfire.
The idea for the playground and park emerged from a meeting and neighborhood tour among Zenobia Dobson, Zaevion’s mother; Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero; KCDC’s executive director Art Cate, who has since retired; several Gerdau managers; and other Lonsdale residents. All agreed that the project would be a fitting and very beneficial memorial to serve the more than 200 children under age 12 who live in the Lonsdale Homes community.
Based on the enthusiastic response of those attending the ceremony and the children experiencing the new playground, the idea was an excellent one.
“This park will be a place where the children of Lonsdale Homes and their families can gather to play and enjoy nature,” KCDC Executive Director and CEO Ben Bentley said. “Our goal in the renovation and modernization of Lonsdale Homes was to create a renewed sense of community, and this playground definitely supports that goal.”
The park includes a large, multi-purpose lawn area for families to play ball, picnic or run; playground equipment for young children; and benches for adult supervision. There also is a memorial plaque for Zaevion Dobson.
Gerdau and KCDC donated land, funding and in-kind services toward the park’s construction; the City donated funding and in-kind services. The project was supported by significant donations from Pilot Flying J and Recreational Concepts, together with donations from businesses and residents across Knoxville.
“Even as a young man, Zaevion had the makings of a future leader in our community,” Mayor Rogero said. “In his courageous actions, he touched the hearts of so many in our city as well as nationwide. This playground is a fitting tribute to Zae and provides a place for the children of his neighborhood to play and have fun.”
City Councilman Mark Campen; Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia Dobson; and Gerdau Vice President and General Manager Johnny Miller also were on hand to celebrate the park’s opening and honor Dobson.
“From the White House to ESPN, Zaevion’s heroic actions of sacrificing his life to save the lives of his friends have inspired the nation,” Miller said. “We are proud to help honor our neighborhood hero and provide Lonsdale’s children a safe place to play.”
The park will be owned, operated, monitored and maintained by KCDC, the public housing authority for the City of Knoxville and Knox County and owner and manager of the Lonsdale Homes property.
Since 1936, KCDC has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Knoxville. KCDC’s mission is to improve and transform neighborhoods and communities by providing quality affordable housing, advancing development initiatives and fostering self-sufficiency. For more information, visit http://www.kcdc.org.
Gerdau is a leading producer of long steel in the Americas and one of the largest suppliers of special steel in the world. As North America’s fourth largest steel producer, Gerdau manufactures products for the construction, automotive, agricultural and energy markets. Each year, Gerdau recycles millions of tons of scrap metals into steel products, reinforcing its commitment to sustainable development in the regions where it operates. Gerdau is proud to stimulate the economy with a variety of well-paid manufacturing careers, employing 9,000 people across 120 communities in the U.S. and Canada. Learn more about Gerdau in North America by visiting http://www.gerdau.com/northamerica.
In 2016, Gerdau won the Knoxville Chamber Impact Award in recognition of its broad community support of its Lonsdale neighbors.