Plan to refurbish Church Circle is in the works

Matthew Lane • Updated Oct 3, 2016 at 8:57 AM

KINGSPORT — One of the oldest and most iconic locations in the Model City is on deck for a significant upgrade next year.

In recent months, the Downtown Kingsport Association has been quietly pitching the idea of replacing and upgrading Church Circle — specifically the brick circle on Sullivan Street and its permanent tree. The DKA has made presentations on the subject to all three churches at this intersection, the Kingsport Tree Board, Keep Kingsport Beautiful and the Historic Zoning Commission.

Sherri Mosley, executive director of the DKA, said she has received or will receive letters of support from all of those organizations.

“People have lots of opinions about that area of town, and we wanted to make sure they had a chance to speak up and tell us what they would like to see,” Mosley said. “Right now, we want to lay the ground work, to get everybody’s blessing and input on it and let them know it’s happening. It’s such a visual, focal point for Kingsport in the historic district and people are really tied to that.”

The new circle could look like the one at the intersection of Industry Drive and Netherland Inn Road, but the specifics are not known at this time, Mosley said. The idea would be to bid the project out to a landscape architect, who would bring back several design options.

“We hope to repair the curb, but we don’t know the materials. I doubt it would be brick because brick crumbles and the type of brick that’s there, they don’t even make anymore,” Mosley said. “We’re going to have to choose a material that will be sustainable for the next 100 years.”

Options would also likely look at the crosswalks, edging and landscaping, and the DKA would like to see some historic signage erected in the vicinity. The existing tree, donated and planted back in the early ’90s, would also need to be replaced, Mosley said, with a true Norway spruce Christmas tree.

At this point, the project will go over to the city and be worked into next year’s budget. Mosley said the estimated cost would probably be around $100,000. It will be next year before construction would begin, a good project for the city’s centennial, Mosley said.

“It should live up to its historic integrity, and (the current state of affairs is) ... not what Church Circle deserves. We hope to restore that,” Mosley said.