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Planning for King's Port under way

March 14th, 2007 1:06 am by Matthew Lane



KINGSPORT - A Chattanooga-based consulting group is "putting more flesh on the bones" of the King's Port on the Holston project.


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 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 Kennedy, Coulter, Rushing and Watson to create a 20-year phased master plan for the project by June. 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.


In January, the group held a public information meeting at the Kingsport Public Library where more than 120 people attended to offer their suggestions on how the district should look. On Tuesday, the group returned to the Model City with a map of the district along with proposed land uses.


Ann Coulter, spokeswoman for KCRW, said Tuesday's meeting was taking the project to the next level of specificity, "putting more flesh on the bones."


"It really determined the direction we were going. It was great guidance for us," Coulter said. "We took that guidance to a level of putting some things on a map and idea of scale and priority and presenting them to the people for input tonight."


Some of KCRW's suggestions include:


•Redevelopment areas and green spaces around the intersection of Netherland Inn Road and Industry Drive with linkage to the downtown area.


•A walking trail around Weyerhaeuser Park, along the river and to the small island off Industry Drive and a new, smaller park near Rotherwood Bridge.


•Having residential areas around the Boatyard store, the Smith House, near Lynn House and Hoffman House and returning Cement Hill to its natural setting.


•Emphasize the historical significance of flatbed shipping and building in the Model City and shift Netherland Inn Road toward the river and reclaim the existing right of way.


"The topography allows for it. Scoot the road towards the river and reclaim the existing right of way for green space or access to Netherland Inn," Coulter said. "The road is not at capacity. It could hold more traffic than it's got. We think there is ways traffic could move better. People find as they redevelop an area, the traffic that normally uses it will decide to take another route."


During Tuesday's presentation those in attendance - many of whom also attended the January meeting - broke out in small groups and offered feedback and suggestions on KCRW's initial proposal. Coulter said the group would then take these ideas and focus their proposal even further.


"We're going to start looking at what makes sense in terms of actual footprints of things, where water-based activities should happen, and where some street sections of Netherland Inn Road should become," Coulter said. "We need reaction to these ideas and a sense of what people are prioritizing, and that will tell us where to focus."


Tom Parham, who has been spearheading this project for more than two years, said there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement for the project in the community.


"We're getting some good ideas, and the process is excellent," he said. "What I like most ... is the consultants have followed our general direction and are coming up with a plan that is affordable, achievable and one that would make sense for our size community."


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