Residents pitch ideas for King's Port on the Holston

Matthew Lane • Jan 23, 2007 at 9:54 AM

Eddie Welch and Ann Vachon look over residents' comments, which were written on Post-It notes and placed on large maps of Kingsport at Tuesday's meeting. Erica Yoon photo.


KINGSPORT - Model City residents would like to see the King's Port on the Holston project maintain the wildlife, Greenbelt and historic buildings along the Holston River while providing better access, prohibiting heavy trucks, and removing the power lines along Netherland Inn Road.

These were some of the comments made about the project during a public information meeting Tuesday evening.

The King's Port on the Holston project calls for the creation of an arts, entertainment and heritage district along the riverfront area of Kingsport. City leaders have said they envision the district including new restaurants and condos, a riverboat, the restoration of the old hospital, and the creation of an amphitheater on Long Island.

The proposed district includes Netherland Inn Road, Fort Robinson Drive, Riverport Road and Industry Drive with linkage to Weyerhaeuser Park and downtown Kingsport.

Kingsport has employed the Chattanooga-based consulting group of Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing and Watson to create a 20-year phased master plan for the project by June 2007. The plan will include land use and zoning recommendations, vehicular and pedestrian infrastructure improvements, and other ideas such as public art and the incorporation of a civic magnet project.

KCRW oversaw Chattanooga's riverfront redevelopment project and has been involved in similar projects in Knoxville and Nashville.

Representatives from the group are spending three days in the Model City this week meeting with various stakeholders in the project. The group plans to meet with the public, city staff, neighborhood representatives, arts and entertainment officials, business leaders and such organizations as the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Kingsport Association, and Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On Tuesday, more than 120 people packed into the Mead Auditorium at the Kingsport Public Library to meet with the consultants, learn more about the project, and offer their opinions on what they'd like to see remain and change about the Netherland Inn area.

Ann Coulter, with KCRW, said the group intends to break the project into four sections - public places, private development, improved connectivity and implementation measures. Tom Parham, who has been spearheading the project for the city, has said an implementation plan is key to the success of the project.

During Tuesday's meeting, Coulter discussed Kingsport's assets such as its location, the Holston River, the city's history and the Netherland Inn itself. The group also plans to consider such issues as the historic district, topography, the flood zone, the rail line, street network, parks and publicly owned land.

Following the presentation, Coulter asked those in attendance to write down on Post-It notes three things they would like to see changed in the proposed district and three things they would like to keep. People were then asked to stick those notes on two giant maps hung on the wall of the auditorium.

By meeting's end, the two maps were covered with notes mentioning such things to keep as the Greenbelt and wildlife. Several notes also suggested the removal of power lines and the banning of heavy trucks from the district.

Coulter said the group plans to collect all of the notes, along with written comments submitted, tabulate the responses, and post them on a Web site about the project.

"We're going to read it, talk about it and record it. We've heard a lot already, and what we're starting to do is see how many times a particular thought has been expressed or idea has been urged on us. That will give us some sense of priority of where we need to start," Coulter said. "We will look at these areas of interest, try to apply the input to those, and see if they're instructive. We'll actually be doing some drawings about the changes that we think we're hearing from people."

KCRW plans to hold two more public meetings this year - one in March and another in May. For more information on the project contact Chris McCartt at 224-2704.

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