ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health and the City of Elizabethton announced on Monday plans to repurpose the former Franklin Fitness Center into a community center and the new home of the city’s parks and recreation department.
A release from the city said it’s agreed with Ballad Health to reopen the building as a community center, which will spark the next phase of a plan to develop that property into basketball courts and other recreational opportunities for Elizabethton residents.
The release states the agreement was made following “discussions early last summer between Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine, Sycamore Shoals Hospital CEO Dwayne Taylor, Elizabethton City Manager Daniel Estes and Councilman Richard Barker.”
The city has agreed to acquire the facility located on the Sycamore Shoals Hospital campus for $500,000. The final deal will be made if the Elizabethton City Council approves it at a Nov. 9 meeting. The release said the sale, if approved, would include all existing equipment as well as the surrounding property.
Along with opening the facility as a community center, building courts and other amenities, the city said this building would house the Department of Parks and Recreation as well, which is currently working out of an aging facility in need of repairs.
Parks and Recreation Director, Mike Mains, said the department is excited and that the acquisition would help them provide more opportunities for the community.
“This type of facility will offer a lot of different opportunities where we could offer meeting classrooms, we could provide more programming, more fitness programs for our community,” Mains said.
Mains said the center is located in a great spot by other recreational activities.
“We’ve got close by the Franklin Pool that we operate, we have six pickleball courts close by, then the Tweetsie Trail and then the linear trail hopefully one day will connect to this site,” Mains said. “So it’s a beautiful setting and beautiful facility.”
“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’s CEO Alan Levine said. “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.”
Elizabethton Councilman Richard Barker said the partnership will make the quality of life for residents better through improved recreation offerings.
“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,” Barker added. “We are very thankful to have this partnership with Ballad Health.”
More information on the agreement and plans for the former Franklin Fitness Center can be found on BalladHealth.org/news.