Elizabethton City Council to vote on purchase of Franklin Fitness Center

Published 7:57 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent


Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Acquiring the former Franklin Fitness Center and transforming it and surrounding property into a community recreation center has moved from a No. 2 priority for Elizabethton Parks and Recreation to a near reality in a matter of months.


During an April board of directors meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains said an advisory board survey ranked the purchase of the Franklin Fitness Center as No. 2 among seven projects on a prioritized list. On Monday, the city of Elizabethton announced it had reached an agreement with Ballad Health to purchase the facility, equipment, and surrounding property at an effective cost of $500,000. 


The release said Ballad Health had set a market value of $900,000 on its 2022-2023 fiscal year financial report, ending June 30. “The net price reflects an in-kind contribution of $400,000 by Ballad Health to the city,” the release states.


Elizabethton City Council is expected to consider the agreement at its Nov. 9 meeting. If approved, the sale of the 14,601-square-foot facility — as described by the Parks and Recreation 2020-2030 Master Plan — is expected to close this fall. 


The facility will be the new home of the Parks and Recreation Department and the meeting room will be open for community events, the release explains; the city, with Ballad Health’s support, will seek state grants and investment to develop the surrounding property for other recreational uses, such as basketball courts.


“Ballad Health and its predecessor have been part of the Elizabethton and Carter County community since 1998 when the hospital’s previous owner left the region,” Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine said in the release. “In my 10 years here, I can think of no partnership that has been as productive and positive as the relationship we have mutually shared with the great elected and city leaders in Elizabethton. Their vision to expand recreational opportunity for children and families is precisely the type of shared goals we have for the community.”


The release notes that an agreement was reached in early June and Levin, Councilman Richard Barker, Sycamore Shoals Hospital CEO Dwayne Taylor, and Elizabethton City Manager Daniel Estes were involved in the discussions. Bank of Tennessee Chairman Bill Greene helped facilitate the project. 


“Our city is extremely proud of Sycamore Shoals Hospital, and we remain grateful for the forward-looking vision of Ballad Health to continue supporting our efforts to provide our citizens with good health care and access to recreational opportunity,” Barker said in the release. “Partnerships like this between private businesses like Ballad Health and public entities demonstrate that our city is interested in economic growth and welcoming to those who want to help make the lives of our citizens better.”