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Major changes taking place at Borden Park

Matthew Lane • Updated Jul 3, 2017 at 1:08 PM

KINGSPORT — When you’re standing in the middle of Borden Park, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of town, surrounded by 1,400 residents with a Fortune 500 company nearby. The 17-acre park does a fine job of providing a sense nature in the center of an urban environment.

And thanks to a number of projects and improvements taking place at the site, Kingsport officials hope the outdoor experience only gets better.

About two months ago, Duco Construction began the first round of improvements: a new walking trail around the perimeter of the park, an open space plaza near the recreation building for outdoor fitness programs, a new surface for the basketball court and better parking.

A second and third round of enhancements — scheduled for 2018 and 2019 — will add two sets of new playground equipment to the park, though not all of the old playground equipment will be removed.

These improvements are being paid for, in part, by a $450,000 grant the city received last year from the Tennessee Department of Health for Project Diabetes. Kingsport also budgeted another $550,000 for the project.

If you go by the park, you’ll notice significant changes taking place.

“They’ve really hustled to get this done,” said Robin DiMona, assistant manager of the city’s parks and recreation department.

The loop trail and plaza are completed, and the basketball court has been resurfaced — just the goals and lining have to be finished. The parking lots along Willow Street and Lamont Street are currently being expanded, adding more than 50 spaces. The parking upgrade should be completed by August.

One of the biggest problems with Borden Park has been accessibility, DiMona said.

“We want more people to come to the park, so parking is real important to us,” she said.

The Rotary Club of Kingsport has also agreed to replace two old shelters, and the city plans to apply for a grant from the AARP for outdoor exercise equipment to be located at two shelters within the park. The deadline for the grant is this November.

The Borden neighborhood is predominantly an older generation, DiMona said, with 60 to 70 percent of its 1,400 residents being mature adults. Hopefully, the new walking trail and exercise equipment will bring more of these people out to the park on a regular basis.

“If they come out and walk, they might stop by a shelter and do 30 minutes of cardio, or they might do some parallel bars,” DiMona said.

The idea is to have 10 different stations, under two shelters: ellipticals, bikes, rowing machines. A whole variety of things to use, free to the public.

“We think it will be a draw to the park and make it more diverse,” DiMona said. “We have all kinds of activity now. Plus it’s quiet. It’s a nice place to come and do whatever you’d like to do.”

Borden Park is one of the original parks from the Nolen plan, which was used to design Kingsport, and it was built as the ideal buffer between the industrial zone and residential area of town.

The park is located between Lamont, Willow and Borden streets and includes a basketball court, six tennis courts, picnic shelters, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, a paved walking trail, 65 different species of trees and an 18-hole disc golf course.

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