Busy times ahead for City Parks & Rec

Published 5:01 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The past two months have been a bit of a whirlwind for the staff with Elizabethton Parks and Recreation.

With the Elizabethton Twins arriving to the area in June, staff has been hitting the community hot and heavy with playground equipment, improvements and different events across the city — along with a pair of projects starting to pick up traction.

One of the more highly-discussed projects being brought up by city officials is the creation of a sports complex, which started to pick up momentum during April’s budget workshops.

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City Council members discussed community needs and noted that a sports complex could become a benefit to the area.

During the workshops, Council agreed to move $250,000 in bond proceeds toward the development of a complex. Action is expected to continue on the development of a project with Council to vote Thursday on entering a contractual agreement with Tom Weems Architect to develop designs for the complex. The cost for the designs is $16,900.

Mains added the current location being discussed for the possible location of a complex is right off Cherokee Park Drive — which was previously discussed as a suitor for a fish hatchery park.

While one project is currently going through the infancy stages, another received a boost of momentum from local leaders.

Recently, the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission approved the plan to develop an off-road bike trail for Bryant Ridge, located in the South Hills community.

Now with support from the commissioners, Mains added the department is taking steps to help make the project a reality.

“The main thing with that project is liability,” Mains said. “We want to make sure the facility will be covered. We’re still talking with TML staff and a risk manager to make sure we are following all the guidelines we need to. The next thing after would be it going before City Council for approval. That would include handling the operation of the facility and maybe some guidelines as well.”

Promoting the recreational opportunities in Elizabethton has been highly encouraged from city leaders. Looking to build off the recent swing of improvements at parks, Appalachian State University helped the issue by presenting their proposal for improvements at Edwards Island and Covered Bridge parks.

Students from the IDEXlab gave a presentation to city officials last weekend with various ideas for improvements which were broken up into four different phases. The first phase, which includes improvements, would cost $378,637.75 according to the presentation. The other phases are broken up into costs of $98,774.91, $55,724.18 and $135,777.16. Moving forward, Mains added the Parks & Rec Board would go over the presentation to prioritize different portions of the presentation to look at making some renovations. Covered Bridge Park is expected to receive primary focus on any short-term improvements.