Church Circle expanding, receiving new spruce tree

Matthew Lane • Sep 7, 2017 at 6:00 PM

KINGSPORT — In fewer than 60 days, Kingsport will have a new and improved Church Circle.

On Wednesday morning, workers removed the spruce tree and began digging up the dirt and mulch in the circle located on Sullivan Street. Eventually, the entire circle will be razed and a larger one put in its place.

David Mason, project manager with the city, said the plan is for the new circle to be about 5 feet wider than the old one, roughly a 30-foot radius, with a new Black Hills spruce tree in the center. The Black Hills spruce, the state tree of South Dakota, is a large evergreen tree that typically grows 50-100 feet tall and is harvested for paper-making and construction.

The new circle will have a center section for the tree and an outer section consisting of a regular planter-type bed.

“We're going to bring it up and get it out of the water table some,” Mason said. “It'll be about 4 foot tall on one side and 2 foot tall on the high side, so it'll have a nice level ground for the tree.”

To blend in with the churches surrounding Church Circle, the new circle will have a granite curb and be made of two-toned red brick with pre-cast stone at the bottom and a pre-cast cap on top. LED lights will run around the walls of the circle so folks can see the brick at night, and crews are expected to install lights around the bottom of the tree for an uplighting effect.

Basically, everything that's there now will be removed and a completely new circle will be built.

GRC Construction has the main contract for the project, which calls for a 60-day completion time. Mason said he expects work to wrap up before that deadline. The cost of the project is $172,500.

Barricades are up around the circle and Mason said the city is not expecting any road closures during construction, though there may be times when workers are out flagging traffic around the work zone.