The J.B. Owen Overlook on Sharp’s Ridge will be closed during the middle of summer, as contractor crews hired by WBIR Channel 10 methodically dismantle the station’s nearby 701-foot-tall backup tower.
WBIR’s 1,418-foot-tall primary tower will not be affected, nor will viewers see any disruption in programming on the station.
The older tower, which for decades had positioned WBIR’s analog antenna, is no longer being used. WBIR, like most TV stations, has switched to transmission of TV signals using digital encoding rather than old analog signals.
Because the J.B. Owen Overlook is adjacent to the tower, it is being closed today as a safety precaution and will remain closed for parts of June, July and August while WBIR’s contractor, FullWave Tower & Broadcast, takes down the tower, starting on Friday. The Sharp’s Ridge trails will remain open.
The work also required the removal of 22 trees in a straight line on City property to accommodate a tagline operation for a safe tower dismantling. That part of the work was closely planned with the City, to minimize the number of trees affected – and to not disturb the more mature, larger trees.
In addition, WBIR is contributing more than $55,000 into the City’s Tree Mitigation Bank – funds that will pay for the purchase, planting and maintenance of 100 2-inch-diameter replacement trees. The new trees will be planted throughout the watershed area, in locations where the trees are most needed.
“WBIR and its contractors really worked with us to change the path of the tagline to avoid affecting the biggest trees,” City Urban Forester Kasey Krouse said. “There was also discussion of putting the tagline on WBIR’s property, but because it’s a slope, that would have resulted in the loss of more trees in a more visible area.
“Everyone’s goal was to have the least possible impact while allowing the contractor to safely dismantle the tower.”
WBIR President and General Manager David Hunt added, “Our small tower on Sharp’s Ridge has reached its end of life. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have worked closely with the City of Knoxville to ensure removal of the tower is done in a safe and environmentally-friendly way with as little disruption to the public as possible.”