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Kingsport school officials eye pool site for tennis courts or soccer fields

May 26th, 2012 9:47 pm by Rick Wagner

KINGSPORT — New tennis courts, anyone?

Kingsport school officials would like to consider putting a tennis facility or maybe soccer fields where Legion Pool is if city leaders are open to the idea.

The idea is among space issues on the Dobyns-Bennett High School campus that are intertwined, Kingsport Board of Education members said, because of different space needs across campus.

The city is awaiting a consultant’s report on potential improvements and an expansion of J. Fred Johnson Stadium, where D-B plays football and baseball, and board members also are discussing converting Midland Center space across Fort Henry Drive from D-B into a home for some Career Technical Education classes.

If the tennis courts are moved from their current location near the intersection of Center Street and Eastman Road, that space could be used for future D-B building expansion and/or parking.

“We need to really encourage them (the Board of Mayor and Aldermen members) to look at the pool area,” BOE President Randy Montgomery said at a May 18 BOE retreat.

Montgomery said one idea is to put a larger indoor tennis facility on the current site of Legion Pool, serving not only the tennis team and physical education classes at D-B but the general public, too.

“We’re not even close to having a final plan for it (Legion Pool area) yet,” Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said, adding that an informal group would like to see indoor tennis courts for school and public use.

City Manager John Campbell in a Friday e-mail interview said he has “heard some interest from the private sector on doing an indoor tennis facility, but I have not heard any real movement on that front in awhile.”

Phillips said he leans toward a larger tennis facility open to the public.

“Money spent on tennis courts needs to be spent on something that is going to be open more than an hour or two a day,” Phillips said. “We’re not even close to talking about what goes in the Legion Pool area. But I appreciate the fact they want to sit down and talk about it.”

Another idea, BOE member Betsy Cooper said, would be to put the tennis facility where the soccer fields are at Highland Park and move the soccer fields to the Legion Pool area. She jokingly suggested “annexing” the Legion Pool area, which city officials have said will remain a pool a year after the new water park opens at MeadowView next year, meaning a pool will remain there another two years.

“At this point, we are simply hopeful of keeping Legion Pool open during the summer season without all the infrastructure failures we have had the last few seasons,” Campbell said. “For instance, last year, we had a number of problems with pumps for the facility.

“In addition, members of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the public have indicated an interest in seeing public green space and a zero-depth water feature at the Legion Pool site at some point in the future.

“Green space is attractive as it provides both family recreational space in the urban core and could help minimize traffic impacts during larger public events, such as Fun Fest, by moving some events out of the roadways.

“Green space itself is also an important consideration because for a campus its size, Dobyns-Bennett High School does not have much green space available.”

Campbell said the pool site could accommodate a larger soccer field than the current D-B soccer field but is not large enough to hold multiple fields.

“A soccer field at that location however would open up a large green space at the site,” Campbell said. “I do believe whatever options the Board of Education wants to pursue will be seriously considered by the BMA, but I would add that whatever the needs are, it is important to maximize the athletic venues we have given the limited space on the campus. Our staff will continue to evaluate options for Legion Pool going forward, and certainly will keep in mind the needs of the BOE.”

Another issue, D-B Principal Chris Hampton said, is the potential to move the New Horizons alternative school, to become the Cora Cox Academy July 1, from the old Lee School building back to the D-B campus. He said that would put the alternative school, which also is to be part of virtual learning and credit recovery programs, closer to resources and personnel in D-B.

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