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City offers plenty of recreation opportunities

Gary B. Gray • Apr 2, 2016 at 5:30 PM

There is an ever-increasing interest in recreational activities in Johnson City, and the expansion of offerings to meet the increased demand for indoor and outdoor activities continues.

Parks and Recreation serves the city’s growing population, as well as an expanding influx of tourism by operating 18 parks, 40 athletic fields, four recreation centers, two swimming pools and other special-use facilities on more than 1,100 acres.

One of the biggest playgrounds is at Winged Deer Park, and soccer, rowing, skating and various specialty groups have asked for and received more area in which to recreate.

Winged Deer Park is a 200-acre district park that hosts a burgeoning number of softball leagues and tournaments. The park’s current softball complex includes five fields with a 400-vehicle parking capacity. The fifth field was completed in 1999.

Major events held at the park’s softball facilities include the USA/ASA Girl’s 10 and Under Fast Pitch National Championships (2003, 2005, 2009, 2011) and the USA/ASA Girl’s 14 and Under Fast Pitch National Championships (2006).

Other amenities at Winged Deer include three lighted soccer fields, Batter’s Up batting cages, an 18-hole disc golf course, playground area, soccer concession building, half-mile walking track and paved fitness trails, which wind through the forested section of the park.

The park’s lake front area features two sand volleyball courts, picnic shelter with restroom, public boating access, green space, lighted handicapped-accessible boardwalk, amphitheater and a Festival Plaza multi-use area with restroom.

The Tweetsie Trail is a rails-to-trails project traversing a former railroad right-of-way between Johnson City and Elizabethton. The trail provides opportunities for walking, hiking, running and biking on a relatively flat grade in a beautiful, natural setting.

The 10-mile trail is the longest rails-to-trails project in Tennessee.

Another prominent city recreation hotspot is the Memorial Park Community Center, where both new programs and memberships are on the rise.

The 72,000-square-foot, multi-generational, recreational behemoth opened to the public in mid-December 2012 and Senior Services was incorporated into the $15 million project.

“We took a real chance on how we were going to mix seniors with others,” said Parks and Recreation Department Director Roger Blakeley said. “But we went from protests to 72,000 square feet of use. And from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., it’s dominated by seniors.”

The community center continues to offer its popular mainstays, including the aquatics programs, open gym, billiards, ballroom dancing, Silver Sneakers, yoga and aerobic classes, bridge, art classes and more.

Seniors enjoy ping-pong, pickle ball, billiards, bridge and card games, fitness, aquatics, arts and crafts, computers and socializing around the fire. The center also offers both adult and youth recreation, including basketball, fitness, game room, aquatics, tot-watch, parties, after-school programming and home schooling.

The Tweetsie Trail is a rails-to-trails project traversing a former railroad right-of-way between Johnson City and Elizabethton. The trail provides opportunities for walking, hiking, running and biking on a relatively flat grade in a beautiful, natural setting.

The 10-mile trail is the longest rails-to-trails project in Tennessee.

Established in 1958, Carver Park is a 6-acre neighborhood park. Amenities include two basketball courts, fitness trail, multi-use court, pavilion, playground and recreation center.

The center is equipped with a gymnasium, weight room, library, meeting space, teen room, community room, arts and crafts area and kitchen.

Residents and visitors also can visit Kiwanis, Metro-Kiwanis, Lions, Civitan, Rotary, Willow Springs and Buffalo Mountain parks.

Buffalo Mountain Park is a 725-acre natural resource area obtained in 1994 through a land swap with the U.S. Forest Service. The park is located on the north slope of Buffalo Mountain and consists of steep topography and densely forested land. It functions as a nature preserve primarily for hiking, picnicking and nature programs.

For information, call the Johnson City Parks and Recreation Department at 423-283-5815.

 

Email Gary Gray at ggray@johnsoncitypress.com. Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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