Founders Park does its job during season's first big storm

Nathan Baker • May 14, 2014 at 9:19 PM

Johnson City’s stormwater improvements appear to be working after Founders Park and the detention basin system successfully weathered the spring’s first series of substantial rainfall Tuesday.

Turbulent brown water swept past the soggy sod lining the creekbank of the State of Franklin Road park as onlookers marvelled at the simultaneous demonstrations of nature’s energy and municipal might.

Andy Best, the city’s stormwater manager, said the efforts to control Brush Creek’s sometimes violent outbursts in the downtown area appeared to be working as they should.

“It was definitely accepting water,” Best said Wednesday. “I don’t know that we had quite the event that we’ve had in the past when State of Franklin was flooded. We may have to get a little heavier rainfall event before we know if we’ve been successful.”

Founders Park is one phase of a group of three approved for funding in July 2012.

One of the others, a large detention pond at the intersection of Boone and West King streets, was completed last October.

Best said when he drove past the pond Tuesday evening, it was likewise performing its intended job to slow the flow of water into King Creek.

“We were taking on water yesterday,” he said. “They had some issues downtown, but the mitigation is giving us additional ways for water to get back into the system.”

The next phase of the city’s long-term flood-mitigation plan involves the WW Cab Company site on Commerce Street, where the occupying building was demolished last month, and the property where U-Haul resides.

The city’s purchase of the U-Haul site, one of the lowest lying plots of land downtown, was originally contested by the company, but has since been settled.

Last month, the rental truck company announced plans to move to the former Lowe’s Home Improvement store in north Johnson City, making way for the city’s project.

Best said once that building is demolished and the greenspace planned for it is established, it could be a while before more phases of the plan come into play.

The city has expressed interest in a land deal with Kelly’s Foods to gain control of the property just upstream from Founders Park.

Depending on the City Commission’s wishes, Best said minicipal workers could continue efforts downtown or move to other parts of the city.

Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.

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