KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- The first-ever comprehensive masterplan for Parks & Recreation for the City of Kingsport is now released. The document provides a list of proposed improvements for Kingsport’s outdoor spaces. Short-term improvements include expanded Greenbelt trails and the development of new community parks. Proposed long-term improvements involve loftier goals, such as the development of a whitewater park.
“The outdoor amenities here are unlike any place else in the United States,” said Pete Lodal, chairman for Kingsport’s Parks & Rec Advisory Committee.
The new masterplan is about capitalizing on the area’s unique amenities, according to Lodal. Through community open houses, surveys, and working with consulting firm Ragan-Smith Associates, a roadmap has been created for the next five, 10, and 15 years.
The plan has been in the works since 2019.
“We had the opportunity to do a pre-COVID and a post-COVID survey, and get people’s impression of how much more valuable are outdoor spaces and parks to you now that you’ve been through this,” said Lodal. “And the answer was, ‘we appreciated them before. We really appreciate them now.'”
Parks & Rec manager Kitty Frazier says a major area of future development will be the Brickyard Park and Cement Hill areas.
“So much potential for everything from walking trails, to BMX bike trails, skatepark, a pump track. All of which fit into the masterplan concepts and the desires of our community,” said Frazier.
Their plan also seeks to develop community and neighborhood parks for the north, east, and south areas of Kingsport, which are identified as deserving of parks that are 20 acres or more in size and would include activities for all ages.
Greenbelt expansion is another major point of focus.
“We envision the Greenbelt as more than just one trail, but as connections and a network of trails going into neighborhoods, expanding the length as far as circling the city in different ways,” said Frazier.
The list of long-term improvements includes items such as the planning and development of a large, multi-use indoor sportsplex for local athletic leagues and regional tournament play. Another item proposes the creation of a cultural center on Long Island to recognize the history of the Native American people in the area.
A possible whitewater park is also on the long-term improvements list. The plan says it could be located at Riverwalk Park.
“We have a river that goes through the middle of our town. And it also crosses into another river, Holston River, South and North Fork, are very unique to our area. We want to capitalize on that,” said Frazier. “Allow opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, various paddling activities. We want to make sure that we throw out the ideas, keep people looking forward and thinking about the possibilities.”
Lodal says the masterplan is aspirational in nature.
“The whitewater park, nobody really knows exactly what that’s going to look like. And that’s okay, we’ll evolve into that as we get closer to the time,” he said. “But I think the goal of taking advantage of what we have that other cities don’t, the river, is obviously the direction we want to go.”