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Rock Springs church offers to donate land for Kingsport ballfields

Matthew Lane • Aug 21, 2013 at 12:32 PM

KINGSPORT — Christ Fellowship Church made an offer to the city of Kingsport Tuesday night — a donation of 30 to 40 acres near Rock Springs Road to be the site for the city’s new softball and baseball complex.

Pastor Greg DePriest came before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

“We’re presenting this for your consideration. It’s something we’d like to do,” DePriest said.

Kingsport is looking to build a wagon wheel-style, baseball/softball complex to replace Eastman Chemical Company’s existing ballfields on Wilcox Drive. Eastman plans to construct a corporate office building on that site as part of its $1.6 billion “Project Inspire” reinvestment plan.

The city has earmarked $3.5 million in an upcoming bond issuance for the complex and over the past two months has been looking at potential sites to accommodate the new facility. Kingsport would like to have the new complex up and running by April 2015.

In a letter to the city outlining the proposal, Christ Fellowship — which owns 116 acres of land near Interstate 26 — would be willing to donate 30 to 40 acres of that property to the city for the creation of the ballfields.

City Manager John Campbell has said around 12 acres of land would be required for a four-field complex. The letter from Christ Fellowship states that what land is not used for the ballfields could be used for additional park space, walking trails or green space.

In return for the donation, the church would request water and sewer services to its facility.

DePriest said the church intends to request annexation regardless of whether city leaders agree to the offer, noting that annexation would also allow the church to have access to Rock Springs Road.

“We’re going to do this one way or another, and we’d rather have the ballfields than a development,” DePriest said. “We feel like it’s a good partnership for the city and for us. We’re not in the development business.”

Mayor Dennis Phillips called the offer an “outstanding gesture” and said it is something the city will seriously consider.

However, Phillips added the city would have to evaluate the topography of the land and determine if the location is not too far out from Kingsport’s core. City officials have indicated they would like to see the ballfields located more toward the center of town.

J.A. Street and Associates has done a conceptual drawing showing four ballfields on the property. City Manager John Campbell said that he is grateful for the offer and that the location would be included with the other properties being looked at for the ballfield complex.

“It’s in the mix for consideration, and we’ll have to see how it does,” Campbell said, noting a final site would likely be selected in the next two to three months.

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