Soccer fields, splash pads and bike trails in city's recreational future

Robert Houk • Mar 26, 2018 at 8:30 AM

The future of recreation in Johnson City includes mountain bike trails, more “diamond and rectangular” fields and major improvements to some of the city’s most visited parks.

James Ellis, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said adding soccer and softball fields has become a top priority. Johnson City currently doesn’t have enough fields to accommodate the growing need.

The city has identified property adjacent to Winger Deer Park that might be suitable for diamond and rectangular playing fields. Ellis said the city is also eyeing building four soccer fields on green space closed to Carroll Creek Road at Winged Deer. He said that development would not infringe on open space now used by picnickers and for outdoor concerts.

City Commissioner Todd Fowler has been working with Washington County officials to develop playing fields at a new K-eighth grade county school they are building in Boones Creek. Fowler said the partnership would save tax dollars and be beneficial to both the city and county.

He said developing these fields will help “meet the city’s needs for the next 10 years, depending on how fast we grow.”

Meanwhile, Johnson City will soon expand its recreational offerings to include a new park with mountain bike trails. City officials say the Tannery Knobs bike park, which is expected to be competed in June, is more than an local amenity.

They hope it will attract visitors from across the region.

“I’m really excited about the bike park,” Fowler said. “I believe it will be a great success.”

Fowler and his colleagues on the commission are so optimistic about its success that they have asked consultants to look into developing mountain bike trails on the city’s Buffalo Mountain Park.

And the city is working to complete mountain bike trails at Winged Deer Park. Ellis said the city is partnering with the Southern Off-Road Bike Association to develop 5 miles of bike trails at the lakeside park.

“I’m proud to say Johnson City has a very progressive parks and recreation department,” he said

Other park and recreation projects either on the on the city’s “to do” list or nearing completion include:

• Renovating space in the Keystone School Building to be a game room. Ellis said his department will also renovate two other rooms in the building as multi-purpose spaces.

• The city will soon begin construction of a restroom facility near the Gump Pavilion at Rotary Park. Ellis said his department is also planning to construct a permanent restroom near the boundless playground and splash pad area of the park.

• Ellis said the city is putting the “finishing touches” on a new playground at the Metro Kiwanis Park. His department is also looking at building a centralized pavilion at the park.

• The Carver Recreation Center is also slated to get a new playground this year.

“It will be state of the art and a new concept for this area,” Ellis said.

The city also hopes to add a splash pad to Carver in the near future.

• Renovations to Civitan Park are set begin later this year. Ellis said they include construction of at least one new soccer field.

Johnson City Press Videos