consultant pitches ideas for new Johnson City Park at Keefauver Farm | Local News
A pollinator garden, a fishing pier, playgrounds, a dog park and many green spaces and walking paths.
These are just some of the options Johnson City commissioners saw Thursday for a new park at the former Keefauver Farm, a roughly 50-acre property on the corner of Hales Chapel Road and Shadden Road that the city has purchased. for $1.4 million in 2009.
In October, the commissioners hired McGill Associates to develop a master plan for the park, and on Thursday the company presented three concepts derived from public feedback collected during two meetings and an online survey.
City commissioners expect to offer their input at a working session in the near future, which will help the consultant refine ideas into a master plan. The final document could include the characteristics of the three options.
“These are not the only concepts,” James Ford, recreation planner at McGill Associates, told commissioners. “While you can choose any of these concepts, I think you might like some elements of each that could lead to a final concept.”
People who attended the city’s public consultation meetings, Ford said, prioritized the inclusion of hiking trails, restrooms, picnic pavilions, paved paths and features that pull part of the property’s existing stream and pond.
The online survey gathered responses from 930 people who also identified preferred amenities from a list of options. Walking paths, open green spaces, bike paths and an inclusive natural playground were among the top picks. Respondents also identified disc golf, picnic shelters, environmental education and a dog park as priorities.
The three concepts commissioners reviewed on Thursday all include paved walking paths, open spaces, playgrounds, pavilions, at least one dock on the pond and more than 100 parking spaces.
There are, however, differences in the details.
The first concept includes a dog park, disc golf, a pollinator garden, natural and paved paths that wind through the wooded area at the rear of the property, and plenty of play space, including a zone interactive where children could play in the stream.
The second concept retains the natural pathway at the rear of the property, but includes an outdoor amphitheater near Hales Chapel Road and pavilions the town could use for a farmers’ market. The design also includes an orchard, an outdoor classroom, a trellis walkway and an educational garden. Concept Two does not have a dog park.
The third concept, on the other hand, combines elements of the first two models. It has fitness stations, a dog park, a barn for lessons and a “demonstration barnyard”.
Ford said planners developed the concepts with an emphasis on several overarching themes: the history of the area, past agricultural use of the land, existing natural features and the surrounding community.
“We know the region is growing,” he said.
In early 2020, the city donated two acres of the property, including the original farmhouse, to the Boones Creek Historical Trust, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the Boones Creek area.
The organization has transformed the front part of the house into a small museum and uses the floor as an archive. They also recently built an opry barn on their land.
Commissioner Jenny Brock noted that the second option in particular combines many of the proposed facilities in the park near the Boones Creek Historical Trust.
“Some of my concerns, a little bit, are that we don’t intrude on what they’re doing over there with a lot of noise and playgrounds and that kind of stuff…” Brock said. “We want to respect what they are doing there.”
Mayor Joe Wise echoed Brock’s concern about ousting the Historical Trust.
“But at the same time, I recognize that there is a real possibility that public investment in the approximately 50 acres that we have could … favorably augment what they are doing as well,” he said.
“I think there’s some value in theming,” he added. “I think it has to feel rural and agrarian. I mean, it still has to feel like a farm on some level once it’s done for all those other elements to make sense.
Lilly Hensley, president of the Boones Creek Historical Trust, attended the meeting Thursday with members of the organization. She expects the park to complement the activities of the historic trust while attracting families and neighbors to the area.
She liked the inclusion of picnic areas, pavilions and walking trails. Hensley confirmed that maintaining the farmhouse feel of the property is an important part of the design process.
“I think this company has done a wonderful job of trying to combine agriculture and the concept of country,” Hensley said, “and with what we’re doing and what they want to do, that’s ideal.”