Kingsport’s award is part of a larger series of grants recently awarded by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Last week, TDEC announced more than $15 million in grants to more than 60 communities to help fund various parks and recreation projects.
In our region, Carter, Greene, and Washington counties also received grant funds.
“Easy access to parks, trails, walking paths and other recreational facilities can make a good community a great community,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “These grants provide the resources needed to help make Tennessee an even more desirable place to live, work and raise a family.”
Kingsport Parks and Recreation Manager Kitty Frazier said the grant is a 50/50 one, meaning the city will have to match it with $250,000 of its own money. It could be January before Kingsport receives the grant paperwork from the state. Once a contract has been approved, Kingsport would have two years to complete the improvements.
As for what the money will fund, Frazier explained more about the improvements coming to Borden and Preston Forest parks.
Kingsport plans to use a portion of the money to install new LED light poles around the six tennis courts. Earlier this summer, the city replaced the fencing around four of the courts, and within the next couple of weeks all of the courts will be resurfaced.
“(These lights) would be in supplement to (those improvements),” Frazier said. “We’re pulling everything out and starting over — new technology, energy efficient and better lighting.”
Other improvements would be with ADA accessibility, making sure the pathways that connect the tennis courts to the parking lot are accessible, Frazier said.
Five years ago, the Preston Forest Community Association conveyed a three-acre park within the neighborhood to the city of Kingsport. The small park is located on Suffolk Street and over the years was developed into community park space.
It included a basketball court, a soccer field, open green space, a picnic pavilion and a set of swings. Since taking it over, Kingsport added a canopy-covered playground with multiple slides and climbing features.
Frazier said the city plans to use grant funds to expand the parking lot at the site and create a small, looped walking trail around the perimeter. The swing set would have to be removed, she said, and the parking lot would need to be ADA compliant.