Splash pad project progressing

A splash pad in downtown Lenoir City beside the all-access playground and near Lenoir City Post Office could be open in May.

Work on a splash pad and pavilion in downtown Lenoir City is beginning to take shape as officials aim for an opening date in a few short months.

General contractor Brownlee Construction Inc., broke ground in the fall.

Zack Cusick, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation program coordinator, said construction on the pavilion is nearly done aside from some electrical work.

“The only thing that’s lagging a little bit behind is installing of the splash pad,” Cusick said. “They’ve been able to grade it out and dig out what they need for it, but now we’re waiting for the actual splash pad installers to start putting in the fixtures, which they’re starting to do, they’re just running a little bit behind because they’ve actually had some outbreaks of COVID within their team that would normally be able to install it. ... After they install the splash pad and then pour the concrete for the splash pad and then the shade structures, we’ll be able to install the shade structures, which we’ll start out with two with the hopes of pouring a third pad and adding a third shade structure later on after the project’s complete.

“Once that gets done we’ll be able to grade out the parking lot and then be able to pave and get the parking lot ready, and then included in the paving of the parking lot will be paving again of the back alley to give it a nice finished look,” he added.

Cusick said the project is on schedule to be complete in mid-May.

“That’s the date we’re shooting for to be able to open,” Cusick said. “In reality, even if we finish everything in April it’d still be too cold to open it up, so we’d probably most likely wait until May. So far we have enough time to be able to still open when we want to, middle of May.”

The project will cost about $1 million. Lenoir City in August 2018 was awarded a $500,000 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation matching grant through the Local Parks and Recreation Fund.

Cusick said the other half comes from city funds and community donations.

As the project nears completion, he’s heard a “buzz.”

“People are excited for that kind of park,” Cusick said. “Once it’s finished they have a very state-of-the-art pavilion with an almost couple-year-old playground that everybody loves and then a new splash pad for our area is going to be awesome. ... They have one in Loudon and it’s a part of their pool facility, so they do have a charge to come in. The nicest thing about ours is it’s just offered free to the community. Besides up in Knoxville, this will be the only free splash pad that I know of that’s not in Knoxville or Athens or anywhere else. This will still be a great addition to our parks program.”

Parklet going show

City officials met via Zoom with Roane State Community College representatives in December for a possible parklet on South A Street beside the Lenoir City campus.

Talks began about two years ago. Lenoir City Council closed the street to traffic in November 2019.

“We’re still in partnership with Roane State,” Amber Scott, Lenoir City administrator, said. “We had our first meet up with them on Zoom about right before Christmas to sort of reorient the group with Roane State Foundation and the city with the project and sort of where we left off, because 2020 was kind of an off year for lots of projects. ... The city took that time to focus on the projects that we had already started and we wanted to get those rolling before we focused on the parklet.”

Not being able to meet in person has proved challenging, Scott said.

The project is estimated to cost $200,000-$300,000. Scott said the city met with Roane State again Tuesday to “get a better understanding of where we go from here.”

“Right now our primary focus is on getting an estimate for the street beautification itself and the sidewalks there on South A Street, and so we have a couple of different avenues and estimates that we’re looking at to do that, which we’re going to share with Roane State Foundation on Tuesday,” Scott said Friday. “One, which is what we’re leaning toward, is a polymer-based coating on the existing asphalt. It’s kind of interesting, you would heat up the asphalt that’s currently there and then you’d put the stamper over the top of it because it makes the asphalt more pliable, and then you add the colors and the bonding and all that. ... Then seeding, landscaping and then ultimately an archway sort of delineating what this place is called.”

The parklet could have a portable stage for live music. Scott said Roane State is considering the space for outdoor classes.

“At this point the funds from the city’s budget are not there because we simply have not focused the funds in that area specifically, and, of course, with our partnership with Roane State we want to see what they’re willing to allocate for this,” Scott said.

She estimates residents could see progress in six to nine months.

“I think the first thing they will see is going to be the upgrade to the asphalt, because to us that’s the most logical place to start,” she said. “Then everything else is kind of a fixture, an accessory.”