Potential sites for new Sullivan County schools unveiled

Rick Wagner • Nov 23, 2016 at 8:17 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — When Sullivan County education officials earlier this year jokingly talked about “Cracker Barrel High” as a name for the proposed new high school near Exit 63 of Interstate 81, they were only slightly off target.

And when officials said the proposed new middle school would be in the Sullivan East High School zone, they could just have well have said it might be within a mile of East.

Bristol, Tenn.-based Interstate Realty at a Tuesday Board of Education work session unveiled its potential sites for the two school projects. One location literally would share the driveway used by Cracker Barrel and Hamrick’s at Exit 63, with other sites nearby or close to Northeast State Community College. And many of the middle school sites would be on Weaver Pike, with at least one mentioned as being larger than needed so that the extra land could be developed later for an elementary school next to the middle school and near the high school.

The 1,700-student high school, part of a countywide $140 million facilities plan also funding Kingsport and Bristol, Tenn., school construction projects, would replace Sullivan North, South and much of Central high schools, with the remaining 250 students of Central being shifted to East High. The new 800-student middle school would take the place of Bluff City and Holston Valley middle schools and the middle school portion of Mary Hughes, a K-8 school. The lists provided Tuesday are not all inclusive; school board members can request that other sites be considered, Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said during the work session.

Following are brief rundowns on the high school sites in no particular order. Interstate Realty’s Bill Ward said all owners are willing to discuss selling, but no binders have been put down for the school system to have the right of first refusal for a set period.

1. Lynn Road — 112 acres with one owner, public water and no sewer. It would front Exit 63 of I-81 as well as Lynn Road and Henry Harr Road. “We think this site has excellent possibilities,” Ward told the school board as he pointed out the location’s visibility from I-81 and good accessibility to the highway.

2. The “Hamrick’s site” — 77 acres with five owners and public water but no sewer. It would use the Flagship Drive entrance off state Route 357 used by Cracker Barrel and Hamrick’s, with a proposed four-lane entrance road to be built. Ward said it would be easy to sewer the property.

3. Airport Parkway — 91.55 acres with additional land possible and three owners. It has public water and sewer available and natural gas. It would have access from I-81 and State Route 75. Kingsport owns part of the property in question but is willing to sell at tax apprasial value. This might be partly in the city limits and in the city’s urban growth boundary, school board members said.

4. Dunlap/Stevenson Hill Road — with five options of a 59.67 acre plot, plus acreage of 62.13, 61.23 and two 14.69-acre  plots.

5. Muddy Creek Road — 95.99 acres with five owners and public water but no sewer. It is across from Northeast State with access from State Route 75, Muddy Creek Road, Cash Avenue and Holston Drive. The county school system owns 9.5 acres of the property already.

6. Highway 75/Holston Drive — 84 acres with one owner and public water but no sewer. It is near Northeast State.

7. Adams Chapel Road — 98.6 acres with public water but no sewer. It is across from State Route 126 and State Route 75. Ward said this location has complicated access and would require roadway improvements.

8. 5565 Highway 126 — 71.5 acres with public water but no sewer. It has accessibility from State Route 126. “We were told they looked at this land when they built Central” High in 1968, Ward said.

The potential middle school sites are:

1. Highway 394 — 47 acres with one owner and public water but no sewer across from the Bristol Herald Courier printing plant. Ward said concerns include getting access to State Route 394.

2. Weaver Pike — 47 acres with one owner, public water but no sewer near East High.

3. Weaver Pike/Paddle Creek — 62.5 acres with two owners, water and sewer near East with two owners.

4. Broyles Lane — 63 acres with public water but no sewer. The site might require additional property adjoining Broyles Lane. Like the Highway 394 location, it is across from the Herald Courier printing plant and is adjacent to that site, but has a different owner.

5. Weaver Pike/Harrington Hollow Road — 69.14 acres with one owner and public water but no sewer and close to East. It would be large enough for an elementary school campus adjoining the middle school to be added later.

6. Thomas Lane/Hamilton Hill Road — 91 acres with public water and natural gas but no sewer. It is near the Bristol, Tenn., city limits and has five owners.

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