KINGSPORT — The city of Kingsport is working on a deal where it would give a portion of Memorial Gardens Park to the neighboring Exxon gas station in exchange for the station building public restrooms on the park property.
Rogers Petroleum of Morristown is proposing to demolish the Exxon gas station at the intersection of Fort Henry Drive and Eastman Road and build a new Exxon Zoomerz convenience store and gas station on the property.
In order to better accommodate the proposal, Rogers and the city of Kingsport have worked out an agreement where the city would give Rogers a 50-by-160-foot strip of Memorial Gardens Park, located adjacent to the gas station.
In exchange, Rogers has agreed to build public restrooms beside the new Zoomerz at the back of the park property and to pay the cost of relocating an 8-inch sewer line that runs through the center of the property to be swapped. Kingsport will provide the engineering services associated with the sewer line relocation.
The property in question appraised at $80,000.
Jeff Fleming, deputy city manager, said the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee found the proposal reasonable, and Thursday the Kingsport Regional Planning Commission voted to declare the 50-foot strip of land surplus and rezone the property from R-4 (medium-density apartment district) to B-3 (general business).
Fleming said the land swap is expected to go before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in March, with construction beginning in April. Fleming said this is being done in order for Rogers to have the project complete by Fun Fest.
“This is a good opportunity where we have tried to work with developers so that the outcome is positive for everyone,” Fleming said. “They could have built on the existing piece of land, but by doing it this way they have a better layout for the service station, and we get much needed restrooms, which will be of great benefit for events held at the park, including Fun Fest.”
According to the plan, a 3,600-square-foot convenience store will be located on the 50-foot strip of land, with the restrooms (between 600 and 1,000 square feet) being located near the back of the park property. The site would include eight gasoline pumps, security lighting behind the station and security cameras, Fleming said.
The walking path, which runs along the back of the park property, will be relocated to stretch behind the new store to Fort Henry Drive.
“They are the same company that did Zoomerz in Colonial Heights, and as part of this project they plan to do more sensitive construction standards, with more natural colors and a green standing seam roof — one similar to the one on J. Fred Johnson Stadium and the concession stands,” Fleming said.
Rogers intends to include more than 9,600 square feet of landscaping (about 24 percent of the entire area) and keep the large oak tree near the back of the property and incorporate it into the design. Rogers officials say the elm tree, located near Fort Henry Drive, looks to be diseased and may need to be replaced.