Elizabethton Park & Rec Board receives updates on heavy load of ongoing projects

Published 4:14 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2023

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The Elizabethton Park & Rec Board met for their regularly scheduled May meeting at the Recreation Center where director Mike Mains provided an update on a number of projects that are currently ongoing for the Park & Recreation Department.

Project Updates
Mains told the board that the Hampton Watershed Bike and Hiking Trail recently had its parking tripled thanks to the efforts of Water Resources Manager Jonathan Pleasant and a team of volunteers from the department.

The parking enlargement will provide more room for visitors coming to the trail locally and from outside the area.

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Ballad Health hasn’t provided any updates in regard to the Franklin Fitness Center which has been on the radar for either a lease or purchase to help provide more room for the Park & Rec Department as well as the potential for enough land to build a couple of full size basketball courts to provide more opportunity for the community.

Finally, Mains said that he shared the appraisals for the Tom Cowan Property which is located directly behind the current Covered Bridge Park stage. Mains has encouraged conversation to move forward with City Manager Daniel Estes on the property.

Mains added that he was hoping that the property could be taken into consideration when the design for the new Covered Bridge Park is developed. “We need a very good plan in place,” Mains said. “I would like to see the landscaping around the park be improved as well.”

Grant Funding
The Community Development Block Grant has been submitted in regard to updates for the Franklin Pool. Mains told the board that they may not hear back from the grant until the fall.

He shared that if received that it would allow for the pool to be redesigned where there would be a beach-type entrance into the pool along with a new sliding board and diving board. However, one of the main features would be the addition of a heater system to the pool which Mains felt would encourage more people to take advantage of the pool which many find a bit chilly for their liking.

The fund would also help repair the pool to eliminate the steady amount of water leakage that reduces the level in the pool on a daily basis.

Also, Mains shared that the LPRF grant for the Covered Bridge Park project has a three-year window. One of the issues holding the project is getting a deed to the property which is currently being worked on. He said that the deed needed to be in hand by August.

Maintenance Division
The board was informed that a few facilities are now being mowed twice a week due to the warmer weather and rain which is causing the grass to grow quicker. Mains said the Park & Recreation Department was fortunate to have the staff that they do to keep up with all the maintenance that is required. That sentiment was echoed by David Nanney, Recreation Manager. “The staff has a great work ethic and they have a really good chemistry between them,” said Nanney.

Citizen Request – Proposed Projects
Mains said there has been a request for a frisbee golf course and told the board that he and the Chamber of Commerce have looked at some potential land for the project but nothing has been advanced on the project other than that.

Also, a piece of property has been looked at for a potential downtown dog park. The director informed the board that there are grants available for that type of endeavor should the decision be made to move forward.

Covered Bridge Days
The final item covered in the meeting was a discussion around Covered Bridge Days which is scheduled for September 22 through September 24, 2023. Mains said that he has been working with Courtney Bean of Main Street Elizabethton about potentially moving the event more toward the downtown area to allow for more vendors to set up.

“We try to make improvements in each area every year,” Mains said. “We will be announcing our entertainment lineup soon which is going to be absolutely amazing. We really want to encourage youth groups to come out to our Sunday afternoon Christian concert.”

He went on to say that hopefully the weather will be a little more forgiving this year as rain threw a wrench into last year’s Sunday afternoon concert.