County panel seeks plan for ball fields in Boones Creek

Robert Houk • Mar 21, 2019 at 9:15 PM

Members of the Washington County Commission’s Commercial, Industrial and Agricultural Committee hope to have a “phase-in plan” for athletic fields at the new Boones Creek K-8 school ready for the County Commission’s consideration in April.

The committee met Thursday to set a timeline for construction of football, soccer, baseball and softball fields at the new school, which is set to open in August.

Architectural plans also call for the construction of concessions, restrooms and a storage facility at the school.

CIA Committee members said they hope to add other recreational amenities at the site in the coming years, including walking trails that could be linked with residential green space projects in the growing community. Mayor Joe Grandy has noted a state grant might be made available next year for such a walking trail.

County Commissioner Phil Carriger, who serves as CIA Committee chairman, told his colleagues their goal was to see the needs of the children who will be attending the new school are met, along with getting the most out the athletic fields for county taxpayers.

“My goal is to get something to the County Commission at our April meeting,” Carriger said. “I’d like to see us have a plan so we can get some momentum going.”

Discussion of the type of athletic complex to be built at the new Boones Creek school has been going on between county and school officials for almost two years. Some of that talk included the possibility of Johnson City getting involved in the project.

City commissioners voted in September not to pursue a joint venture on the athletic fields.

The county has agreed to spend $25.3 million to construct the Boones Creek K-8 near Highland Church Road. Another $3.2 million has been allocated for site preparation, which would include development of the athletic fields. Carriger said $193,514 is available to be spent in the current budget year.

Phillip Patrick, maintenance supervisor for Washington County schools, said the county Board of Education has approved a Boones Creek plan that calls for one baseball diamond, one softball diamond, a football/soccer field and fencing. County commissioners are reviewing architectural plans that call for two baseball fields, two softball fields, a soccer/football field and a possible walking trail.

He encouraged the committee to look for guidance on how to incorporate those components on the site from Tommy Burleson, the Boones Creek school project manager, and Thomas Weems, a Boones Creek resident and neighbor of the new school, who is an architect with a firm that has done consulting work on athletic fields for the project.

“You know where you would like to go,” Patrick said of the committee’s goals.

Commissioner Kent Harris said it was important for the county “to show taxpayers it is trying to keep costs low” while delivering the athletic and recreational services schoolchildren and residents of the community “deserve.” He said jail inmate labor could be used to help save money on constructing restroom and concession facilities.

In addition to seeing the athletic needs of students are met, Commissioner Jodi Jones said the project would also allow for the addition of walking and fitness trails at the site. Plans include the development of a track around the football field, as well building cross country track on the site.

Grandy told the CIA Committee it was important to get the electrical, sewer and and other infrastructure needed for the athletic fields and buildings in place before grading is done to the site.

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