Neither project is expected to have an impact on the average visitor. Folks will still be able to walk across the dam, and there’s always the upstairs restroom in the Nature Center.
The dam at Bays Mountain Park is more than 100 years old and in good structural shape with some normal weathering.
However, according to a 2014 safety inspection, the dam does have some hairline cracks, and the cement in the masonry joints is breaking down, which is why it’s time for all of the original mortar to be replaced.
Bids for the work went out in December with the low bidder being Inland Construction.
Originally, Kingsport estimated the project would cost $1.5 million and be done in multiple phases over several years. Today, the project will be done all at once and cost $420,000.
Park Manager Rob Cole said the repairs should begin in March and that the contract calls for a 270-day completion time.
“There shouldn’t be any impact to our normal operations, including the walkway across the top of the dam,” Cole said. “If there is for any reason, we’ll certainly let folks know a few days in advance.”
There is a possibility the water level at the dam could be impacted as the contractor works around the spillway. If that happens, the drop could be from three to six feet.
The restrooms on the lower level of the Nature Center are also getting an overhaul this summer. The bathrooms are the last remaining part of the facility with a 1970s look, Cole said.
“Our goal is to make the lower level look exactly the way the upstairs ones do,” Cole said. “It’ll create for a much more comfortable visitor experience.”
Trademark of Virginia was the low bidder for the work, with a bid of just under $76,000. Renovations are expected to begin in early March and take about 40 days to complete.