Church Hill solves parking shortage before installing splash pad, amphitheater

Jeff Bobo • Mar 21, 2020 at 9:00 AM

CHURCH HILL — Derrick Park is in the midst of a massive improvement project, with new attractions like a splash pad and amphitheater that will draw a bigger crowd, but until now it wasn’t known where that crowd would park its vehicles.

On Monday, however, the anticipated parking problem was solved thanks to the Church Hill VFW, which agreed to sell the city a private road that leads to the backside of the park.

Mayor Dennis Deal informed the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday evening that the VFW agreed to take $8,000 for the road, which will become a paved city street leading to a new parking area.

“That is critical to our park for overflow traffic”

“It will stay VFW Road, and we’ll go down there and build a cul-de-sac,” Deal said. “... It will be a paved road all the way down with streetlights. I’ll get with Holston Electric to get some lighting in that area.”

Deal added, “I want to thank the commander of VFW. He really done a fantastic job. I want to thank the VFW members, and I also want to offer a special thanks to Darryl McPheron. These people really helped us, and that is critical to our park for overflow traffic.”

Deal explained that the city already owns the property from Silver Lake Road to the edge of the VFW property.

“What we will be purchasing is from the edge of the parking lot all the way to the river,” Deal added. “I might add also, the reason we need to purchase it — we can’t go out here and pave property that don’t belong to the taxpayers.”

Splash pad contract signed

Derrick Park is located along the Holston River adjacent to the western edge of the Holston Army Ammunition Plant off Ordnance Drive just south of the rear of Food City.

The park’s biggest new pending attraction is a splash pad, which is expected to open around June 6.

Alderman Keith Gibson, who chairs the committee planning the park’s redesign, informed the BMA Tuesday that the city has signed a contract with Vortex Aquatic Systems to install the new splash pad for $280,590.

Last month the BMA voted to accept that low bid from Vortex for a flow-through splash pad to be located on the south side of the park near the public restrooms. Installation is expected to be completed in nine to 12 weeks.

This week, city workers have been taking down Derrick Park’s playground equipment, which is located on the north side of the park, opposite the current parking and boat ramp area.

That old equipment was originally intended to be relocated close to the restroom facilities as well, near a new set of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible playground equipment that will be installed soon, and the future location of the splash pad.

“We need to be looking at new (playground) stuff”

Gibson told the board, however, that the old playground equipment is in pretty bad shape.

“We’re going to run into some problems on some of that old equipment because it’s got some bad spots in it,” Gibson said. “I think they were trying to get the papers from when they were originally installed, trying to find if we can get replacement parts, but there’s some things on it that are going to be dangerous. Some of the landing areas that had rubber coating on them, that will about cut you if you touch it.”

Gibson added, “You think about kids scooting around on that. I don’t want my granddaughter on that and run the risk of getting cut.”

Deal said he expects that the only playground equipment that will be salvaged is the swings.

“We need to be looking at new (playground) stuff too,” Deal said. “Maybe a little bit different stuff than what we had over there in the past.”

Gibson said he will study playground equipment catalogs and come up with some recommendations.

Amphitheater and two shelters

The area where the old playground had been located is expected to receive a new amphitheater, which was another reason the VFW Road purchase was needed. The committee’s goal is to begin scheduling concerts and festivals at Derrick Park once the new amphitheater is installed.

Gibson told the BMA that City Recorder Josh Russell was working last week on advertising for bids for two new picnic shelters and the amphitheater at Derrick Park, but Gibson didn’t know if the bids had been completed because Russell went home sick Monday.

When those bids are received they will be presented to the BMA for consideration.

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