BOOTS ON THE GROUND: Appalachian State engineering students begin work on parks plan

Published 8:08 am Monday, August 28, 2017

Ideas were spreading like wildfire Friday afternoon as work begins to look at revamping two parks in the City of Elizabethton.

Students from Appalachian State University arrived right before the weekend to start the process of developing a park feasibility study and master plan for improvements at Edwards Island Park and Covered Bridge Park.

After receiving support from City Council two months, representatives from Elizabethton Parks and Recreation, City of Elizabethton Planning and Development, the Elizabethton Arts and Cultural Alliance and the Elizabethton IDEAS Group were able to meet inside City Hall to kickstart the process.

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Different intangibles will go into the development of the study, according to Parks and Rec Director Mike Mains. The scope of services provided by the university includes:

  • Research and Development of a Design and Action Plan for the Project
  • Provide Beautification of Both Parks
  • Promote the History of Natural Resources of the City of Elizabethton
  • Provide Educational Opportunities
  • Have Recreational Programs and Events and Promote Scenic Aspects of Both Parks
  • Identify Funding Sources
  • Develop Cost Effective Measures That Would Lower Burden of Maintenance Expenses
  • Reduce Overall Liability Concerns
  • Identify Roles of Volunteers and Partner Organizations

While there are 10 parks in the city, Mains added Edwards Island and Covered Bridge Park were the focus of the plan with the ability to shape it into something much more for the public. Jon Hartman, City planning and development director, told students the idea of Covered Bridge Park is serving as the community circle of Elizabethton due to the Covered Bridge and the ability to host different events onsite.

On the heels of the information session in City Hall, Chris Little, with the IDEAS Group, led students on a tour of both parks and students were quick to highlight different ways the parks can improve their usage for residents and visitors.

The aspiring engineers will comprise a pair of plans, which will be unveiled to the Elizabethton representatives in December. After getting feedback from the city, students will implement ideas and hope to have final products by May.

Overall, the goal of the project is for an improvement plan to be developed. Once in place, Little explained grant opportunities could be available to help fund the improvements, which will be set up in phases over the years.

Chelsea Helms instructor with Appalachian State’s Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment is over the students and indicated they’ve enjoyed their time in Elizabethton.

Students had to apply to be part of the course, Helms added.