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Road project creates recreational upgrades for area Boys & Girls Club

• Jun 20, 2015 at 1:00 AM

New construction and renovations of outdoor recreational facilities at the Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County is in full swing and expected to be finished before the late fall completion date.

“The completion date is Nov. 23, but the contractor says he thinks they will be done well before that time,” said Brandon Pachol, a city project engineer.

Johnson City commissioners approved a $700,000 bid by Baker Construction in April to address some sorely needed fixes at 2210 W. Market St. pushed forward by the construction of the Lark Street Extension Project.

The project includes construction of a two-lane access road through the now-rundown Optimist Park and across the former animal shelter property on Sells Avenue. Businessman Guy Wilson requested the road be built years ago to use for transport to and from his compounding facility.

A bumpy football field on the club’s south side has been ripped away, and workers are nearly complete with grading at the site, which is being moved closer to the building to accommodate the two-lane road. The road will run between the old animal shelter and a large electrical substation, and a formidable retaining wall is being built at the corner of the new field closest to West State of Franklin Road.

“The old field was rough as a cob,” said Baker Construction Superintendent Jesse Buchanan

“This is the first thing we’re doing. We’re making sure to really compact it. We will be sodding the field pretty soon, but it will have to be watered at least twice a day to have a chance to take hold.”

A small field house now under construction will replace the outdated one and connect to the south side of the building. Heavy machinery is making way for new bleachers that will be situated below just below the structure, and the lights that had been used for the football field will be reused on the football field only.

Buchanan said crews will next move to an area used for T-ball, and that the two backstops will be repositioned with the home plates being moved closer together.

The new access road will run between the old animal shelter and a large electrical substation, and a portion of one of the retaining walls is being constructed where the road will connect with West State of Franklin Road. Buchanan said there will be left and right lane exits at this point.

“Both the football field and two T-ball fields will be fully enclosed with new fencing,” Pachol said. “The new field house replaces the old one. There will be new bleachers under the field house, and the existing lights for the football field will be reinstalled. Both T-ball fields will get new bleachers — something that was not there before.”

Pachol said a proposal will be sent to the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission to rename Sells Avenue — the road that runs up to the former animal shelter — to Optimist Street. He also said the city still has not found a replacement property for Optimist Park.

The rundown and vacant park must be replaced, because federal money was used for its construction. One of the caveats to that funding was that a new recreational site be acquired. Keefauver Farm has been mentioned as a possible site, but no solid proposal has reached the City Commission.

In September 2013, commissioners approved the first phase of design for the road and began acquiring required environmental surveys and reports, environmental engineering documentation and impact assessments.

One month later, commissioners announced they had a buyer lined up for the Boys and Girls Club. Just seconds before a vote to approve the consent agenda — an agenda that included a proposal from Johnson City’s Brumit Co. to buy the 6.3-acre lot — the City Commission deferred further discussion.

Commissioners voted to wait until updated appraisals were available on a city-owned site and a possible alternative location at the old Traco manufacturing property on Silverdale Drive — a site Brumit would have had to pay for.

Nothing regarding a relocation has been made public since that time.

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

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