Elizabethton receives $100,000 grant from TDEC for pool renovations

Published 10:16 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                        The Joe LaPorte, Jr. Recreation Area, home of Franklin Pool, was one of 55 cities and towns in Tennessee to receive a Local Park and Recreation grant from TDEC.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden The Joe LaPorte, Jr. Recreation Area, home of Franklin Pool, was one of 55 cities and towns in Tennessee to receive a Local Park and Recreation grant from TDEC.

The addition of a splash pad for the City of Elizabethton will soon become a reality.
In a joint statement by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner Bob Martineau and Gov. Bill Haslam Monday, the duo announced a series of grants totalling over $17 million will be unraveled to various cities and towns across the state in the coming months.
Elizabethton will receive a 50/50 matching grant worth $100,000 to work on constructing a splash pad at Franklin Pool, nestled inside the Joe LaPorte, Jr. Recreation Area.
“We appreciate the consideration by Gov. Bill Haslam and TDEC for allowing us to receive this opportunity,” Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains said Wednesday.
The funds will go toward the creation of a splash pad, which will replace the baby pool in the area, Mains said..
“Our baby pool facility was very much outdated,” he added. “With the pump system, mechanical issues … we were looking at a way to make things safer and more cost efficient.”
Mains credited the help of Elizabethton Planning and Development Director Jon Hartman and Lance Lowery with the First Tennessee Development District for helping get the grant and working through the application process.
“This is something we’ve had on our radar for the past five years,” Mains said. “We’ve been so fortunate to have an area like Franklin Pool. We see hundreds if not thousands of people use it. It’s open from May to September and everybody seems to have a great time. It’s such a beautiful location, adjacent to Sycamore Shoals State Park. We’re very fortunate. It’s such a great facility.”
Mains added that nearly 65 percent of the pools attendees are non-citizens of Elizabethton, showcasing the amount of support the area receives.
Grant funding will help fund various parks and recreation projects across Tennessee. TDEC will award $15.8 million in Local Park and Recreation grants to 55 communities, Elizabethton being one, while an additional $1.9 million in Recreational Trails Program grants will be scattered across 12 parks and communities in the state.
“These grants are very competitive so I applaud our local officials for their hard work on behalf of their communities,” Haslam said. “Our goal at the state level is to make Tennessee the very best place to live, work and raise a family, and I want to thank local officials for their partnership in making these grants happen and achieving that goal.”
According to information provided by TDEC, the Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant program was established by the General Assembly in 1991 to provide local governments with funds to purchase land for parks, natural areas, greenways and recreational facilities. The funds also may be used for development of trails and projects in parks, natural areas and greenways.
Grant recipients were selected through a scoring process with careful consideration given to the projects that met the selection criteria and expressed the greatest local recreation need.
“Bringing in a splash pad will be a great addition,” Mains said. “You see so much support of the pads around the area. It’s a great item for people of all ages to use.” The director went on to add the safety and cost effectiveness for the addition will be key moving forward.
The TDEC commissioner added that supporting locals parks and recreation departments are important to the state.
“Local parks and recreation areas provide opportunities to gather, experience nature and enjoy outdoor activities,” Martineau said. “We’re grateful to be able to fund these projects, which will pay dividends for our communities now and in the future.”
Mains added that he’ll be awaiting official documents from the state before the project moves ahead, estimating it to be around two weeks. Once the documents are in place, plans will be put into motion for constructing the pad.
Across the county line, Unicoi County also received a Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grabt worth $167,000 for work to be done inside the Rocky Fork State Park located in the Flag Pond community.

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