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Renovation is in the works for V.O. Dobbins Community Center

February 23rd, 2007 10:33 pm by Matthew Lane

Renovation is in the works for V.O. Dobbins Community Center

Long-needed improvements to the V.O. Dobbins Community Center are on Kingsport's short list of capital improvement projects. Erica Yoon photo.



Long-needed improvements to the V.O. Dobbins Community Center are on Kingsport's short list of capital improvement projects. Erica Yoon photo.


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KINGSPORT - After years of delays and being bumped for other projects within the city, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen seems poised to move ahead with major renovations at the V.O. Dobbins Community Center.


As part of the annual budget discussions, the BMA has held two meetings in the past 30 days to discuss various capital improvement projects within the city. One of the projects that appears to have made the short list is improvements to V.O. Dobbins.


V.O. Dobbins is located in the Riverview neighborhood and was once the old Douglass High School - the city's African-American school that operated from 1951 until 1966.


According to CeeGee McCord, deputy executive director of the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the project calls for the rehabilitation of the facility and the addition of a new two-story, 22,000- to 23,000-square-foot nonprofit wing. The new wing would be anchored by the United Way and the American Red Cross.


"It would also provide some space for some smaller nonprofit and/or pilot programs that would be beneficial to the community," McCord said.


The project also calls for renovations to the theater and the construction of a new gym, which would be used by the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department in connection with AAU tournaments. Total new space at V.O. Dobbins would be 33,000 to 34,000 square feet.


The estimated cost of the project is around $7 million - $4.5 million of which could be funded through bonds and the remainder through new market tax credits, City Manager John Campbell said this week.


Work would likely not begin at the center until the 2008 fiscal year, and McCord said the project would take around three years to complete.


"What we'd like to see out of the project - and it's a nice tie-in to the HOPE VI project as well - is we rehab the current structure and maintain the current tenants within the building, which is the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency, the Parks and Recreation Department space, and the Neighborhood Service Center," McCord said.


In October, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the awarding of $11.9 million in HOPE VI grant funds to the KHRA. The project calls for replacing the 92 public housing units at Riverview with 28 to 32 houses and for 24 new houses to be built in the Sherwood/Hiwassee community.


"We feel like with the capital funds that had been slated in years past on this facility, it's something we hope would come to fruition," McCord said. "There's always limited dollars, and there's a lot of need in the community. It's something that's been on the CIP before, and we just want to make sure it stays there."


Kingsport resident Ed Horton spoke in favor of the project during a recent capital improvement projects (CIP) meeting with city leaders. Horton, who graduated from Douglass High School, said he moved back to the Model City last year after being gone for 30 years.


"I marvel at the plans on the table for revitalizing that section of town," Horton said.


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