Roan Mtn. Community Park nears completion

By Lesley Hughes
star staff
lhughes@starhq.com

  After almost six years of applying for grants, buying property from area land owners, and planning construction dates around correctional facility schedules, the Carter County Planning Commission is finally talking about the end result of six years of work on Roan Mountain Community Park.
  At the monthly planning commission meeting, many complimentary words were said about the continuous work from the Parks and Recreation Board, H.C. Lewis Construction Company, inmates from the Northeast Correctional Center and Carter County Jail.
  One commissioner said, " I did go by there and the park looks really good. In the last few weeks it has came a long way."
  Planning Director Chris Schuettler said in the past week inmates have constructed three new picnic sheds containing two picnic tables in each. The heavy weight tables will be bolted down to prevent any flood damage or theft.
   The chain link fence for the baseball field will be put up in the next few days if the weather permits, according to Schuettler.
  The land which was purchased by the county for the creation of the park was part of the land in the Roan Mountain community which was decimated in January 1998 with heavy flooding. The flood ravaged Carter County, especially the Roan Mountain community, and caused more than $20 million in damage and claimed the lives of seven county residents.
  Original plans for the new park included picnic sheds, a community flower garden, a baseball/softball field and a walking trail, part of which will front the Doe River. It was later discovered that a portion of the walking trail was part of the Overmountain Men's trek to the battle on King's Mountain in 1780. The trail was designated on Monday as part of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association.
  Creation of the park and purchase of the 15-acre tract of land it will sit on was made possible by a grant from the state, according to County Planning Manager Chris Schuettler. The grant, which was for $177,500, was a park and recreation grant through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
  Schuettler said the park and OVTA trail will bring in additional tourism and create the possibility for a countywide linear trail for the OVTA.
  Although the park has not been officially opened to the public, Schuettler said many citizens are already taking advantage of the walking trails and picnic sheds. One item that many citizens are looking forward to is a handicapped-accessible fishing ramp into the Doe River. The only other handicapped fishing access is located at the Rat Branch dock to Watauga Lake. A dedication ceremony will be planned after the park is completed in 4-5 weeks, if weather permits, according to Schuettler.