Construction of Roan Mtn. Community Park to begin

By Julie Fann
star staff

Some say out of tragedy good things do come. Though that may not always be the case, the Roan Mountain community is about to be blessed five years after a flood took homes and lives in Carter County.
   "It's an awesome step forward that came out of something bad. To think that the flood came, and it really changed a lot of people's lives forever, but now the community park is going to really be something that will be for future generations to enjoy," said Retha Patton of the First Tennessee Development District that is overseeing the project.
   At a meeting held by residents of Roan Mountain and county commissioners Thursday evening at Cloudland Elementary School, County Executive Dale Fair announced the state recently approved a $175,000 grant to fund the park three years after the funds were requested. "With the change in administration and everything, it's just been sitting on someone's desk all this time," he said.
   The park will be built on county property behind the Roan Mountain U.S. Post Office off of Carter Street, the site where five homes were demolished by flood waters in 1998, and will extend across U.S. Highway 143 that leads to the peak of Roan Mountain.
   Fair said the county will match the amount provided by the state, and construction will begin on June 15, "give or take 45 days," he said.
   Most of the construction will be performed using prison labor, beginning with grading the site and breaking the soil. Patton presented residents and commissioners with a timeline and site drawing, with the completion of the entire project scheduled for late spring, 2004.
   Between June and August, most of the basic site work and grading will be completed. From August to October, prison workers will complete most of the construction, including foundations for shelters, soil/trail stabilization, fencing, ball field preparation, construction of shelters, benches, picnic tables and trash receptacles.
   The park will feature a full scale, regulation-sized baseball field, a walking trail that extends around the entire length of the park, an open field designated for frisbee and other recreation, a swinging bridge across the Doe River (scheduled for next spring), two small fishing areas for handicapped individuals, a playground, a community pavilion, picnic areas, flower gardens, and a basketball court.
   Patton said the walking trail should be usable by the end of October. "When cold weather gets here the basics should be ready to go ... it's going to be such a nice park, and I hope the community will embrace it," she said.
   Roan Mountain residents have been looking forward to the park since 2000 when Jada and Dale Blevins, owners of Blevins Auto and Salvage, formed the Roan Mountain Recreation Foundation. The chartered organization enabled the community to apply for grant funding.