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Residents offer their vision for a revitalized Model City

Editorial Board • Sep 29, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Several weeks ago we asked for suggestions on what you think should be included in the city’s blueprint for the future. A new visioning process undertaken by Mayor John Clark will serve as the development foundation for the next 10 to 15 years. Mayor Clark plans a two-day summit starting Oct. 29 at MeadowView.

We said we would list your suggestions and comments in this space. They include:

— Merge Kingsport city and Sullivan County governments. Why should we be paying for two mayors and two governments and the same services?

— Bring together the schools in Kingsport and Sullivan County. Kingsport’s got too many students because it annexed county students and now the county is going to build new school even as it closes other schools. Makes no sense.

— After the new school programs for both Kingsport and Sullivan County have been implemented a number of students who live in non-annexed areas will have to travel up to 20 miles each way to attend the county school serving their area. For example, high school students living in the Lone Star community will have to commute to the new Sullivan County high school located centrally in Sullivan County. City/county school systems should work together to provide education to these students in the best method possible for the students. Perhaps boundaries could be drawn for these students and a plan developed for the county to pay a reasonable tuition to the city for these students to attend the nearest city school if they chose to.

— There are too many students at DB. Kingsport needs another high school. North should be turned into another Kingsport high school.

— The city should purchase the Sullivan South campus and use it for city high school classes. Dobyns-Bennett would become the Dobyns campus and the current South school property would become the Bennett campus

— one school with two campuses. Sports players and band members would come from both campuses and be consolidated and practice and compete as Dobyns-Bennett.

— Build a new civic center with seating capacity of 10K or more. A suggested site is the area behind McDonald’s on South JB Dennis highway, the land that at one time was to be developed commercially by a South Carolina developer. Build an access road to the civic center from the welcome center exit on I-26. This parcel appears to be one of the better sites close in. It is also close to a hotel and motels. An alternate site would be the “Crossings” property. Demolish the current Civic Auditorium.

— Reinvigorate Fun Fest by going back to some of its original objectives. For example, one of the objectives was to have events that would bring various parts of the greater community together. I remember the rope pulls, fire department competitions, softball teams, etc. That would result in a positive return with relatively little cost.

— Kingsport needs to build a bypass around Stone Drive. You take your life into your hands on that road. It should connect from I-26 to John B. Dennis.

— Why is there no way to get from 11-W into the city between Gibson Mill and Eastman Road? The city needs another connector off Stone Drive so you don’t have to wait so long, especially to turn right from Stone onto Eastman Road. Everybody knows to use the shortcut to Jack White Drive.

— Envision Kingsport would be a group of residents from all areas of the city, some of whom would be considered visionaries because of past successes and experiences, and others selected from all parts of the city. This ongoing group with staggered terms would work to make short-term and long-term annual or biennial recommendations for city improvements to city government.

— When are the apartments going to be built on supermarket row? Downtown Kingsport needs to be redeveloped around some kind of theme to give it character, and people a reason to go there.

— A pretty solid infrastructure exists downtown and private developers should carry development forward. There are better opportunities for development in places other than “downtown” to achieve long-term city growth. Now that development of properties near Walmart and Kmart is coming to fruition, housing for young professionals will probably not be downtown. So some of the perceived need for downtown development is not warranted.

— What happened to the Imax? The city should cut a new deal with whoever will bring us a bigger theater. And we need a new bowling alley.

— The one thing I think Kingsport needs more than anything else is a large park with swimming pools and all kinds of recreational things. Yes, we can go to MeadowView or Warriors Path, but we need those things somewhere right in the city so that kids can walk to it.

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