And though not yet funded, a $1.4 million conceptual plan for the entire property calls for the park to have additional parking, a new basketball court, picnic pavilions, open green space and terraced seating.
Kitty Frazier, parks and recreation director, said work began at the park around the first week of April with crews performing excavation work, ripping out the old asphalt parking lot and basketball court and preparing the site for the new parking lot.
Now, crews are working to finish the parking, then the sidewalk access to the playground with the final part in this phase being the installation of new perimeter fencing and new playground equipment, which Frazier said will likely begin within a month.
“It’s a metal-based playground and has fitness components,” Frazier said. “It’ll be an interactive playground, not just with swings and slides; but things that strengthen physical agility, similar to the one at Domtar park.”
The playground equipment is estimated to cost approximately $10,000 with the entire first phase costing approximately $102,000. A master plan has been developed for the entire property with early estimates of the development coming in at $1.4 million.
The master plan calls for additional parking behind the Rock Springs Elementary School, landscaping around the parking lot and perimeter, new signs at the entrance, a basketball court, three picnic pavilions with adjacent terraced seating and a rain garden.
The existing horseshoe pits will remain and the master plan calls for no changes to the elementary school, Frazier said. The school is currently being used by the Sullivan County Library, which stores books in the building and has scheduled a book sale at the location for May 17 and 18.
“That’s one reason we wanted to go ahead and get the parking lot done first, to help the activities in the neighborhood,” Frazier said, in reference to another popular event in the community, the monthly fish fry across Rock Springs Road.
A concept could be to turn the old elementary school into a community center, like Kingsport has done with the Lynn View Community Center, but Frazier said if that decision is made the city would work with the community to see what it would use the facility for.
Frazier said further implementation of the master plan depends on the city’s budget and no funds have been earmarked for the remainder of the master plan.
“(Rock Springs) certainly is a well established community and we had an opportunity to come in and upgrade a few areas and get people involved in the long-range planning,” Frazier said.