Bays Mountain undergoes improvements, part of 10-year plan to make $8 million worth of upgrades

Local

A Tri-Cities park will undergo nearly a million dollars in upgrades this year.

Bays Mountain Park in Kingsport dates back to the 1960’s.

Now, it’s part of a larger plan to not only preserve one of Kingsport’s main attractions and to increase tourism.

Assistant City Manager Chris McCartt said this year’s improvements are part of a 10-year plan to put $8 million worth of upgrades into Bays Mountain.

Park Manager Rob Cole said it’s typical for the park to be packed, even on a Friday morning.

“We’re averaging 223,000 visitors a year over last 5 years,” Cole said.

Cole said a majority of the visitors are students from across the region.

“We focus of school groups, we love education,” Cole said. “We are packed every weekend, in fact, we are running out of parking.”

That’s just one of the issues the City of Kingsport plans to fix as the park undergoes nearly a million dollars in upgrades this year.

McCartt said the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman approved to make significant enhancements to the nature center, planetarium and animal exhibits this year.

“If you walk into the nature center, some of it is blocked off because we are doing some work on our honey bee exhibit,” McCartt said. “We’ve heard in the news, really over last years, benefits of honey bees. They play a huge part of Bays Mountain, and we want to enhance in that exhibit.”

McCartt said one of the first exhibits to receive improvements will be the otter exhibit. 

“I think if you talk to anyone that goes to the park, especially with kids, they are going to say they either run to one of the two animals, the otters or the wolves,” McCartt said.

McCartt said these improvements are part of a larger goal to increase tourism in Kingsport.

“If you aren’t reinvesting in it, you are going to lose those visitors,” McCartt said.

McCartt said most of the projects will be completed by the end of next summer.

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