Kingsport Times News. Oct. 17, 2021.
Editorial: Bays Mountain readies for next 50 years
The amphitheater at Bays Mountain Park does not impress, but next year that’s going to change. Built when the park opened 50 years ago, the amphitheater has board seating for several hundred. A new amphitheater will be located at a more central area closer to the Nature Center.
Constructed of concrete and stone and with seating for 341 persons, the new amphitheater will also have a roof-covered stage and restrooms and changing rooms.
It will have ADA parking, and guests will be able to access the new facility more easily, allowing the park to expand the programs it offers there and furthering its mission of educating the region about the natural area that surrounds us.
It’s made possible by a lead grant from Eastman Chemical Co., which long has invested in the park.
In 1907 one of Kingsport’s founders, J. Fred Johnson, began buying up land on Bays Mountain to create a lake to be used as a water source for fledgling Kingsport. By 1914, Johnson had purchased the roughly 1,200 acres that surrounded the watershed and sold it to Kingsport Waterworks Corporation, which promptly began work in 1915 preparing to build the now iconic dam seen as visitors enter the common area atop Bays Mountain Park.
In 1916 water began flowing to the city, and in 1917 the dam was raised 6 more feet, creating the 44-acre lake seen today. In 1965, Mayor Hugh Rule appointed a committee to study ways to possibly develop the mountain into a park, and the city hired the National Audubon Society to help design it. With assistance from Eastman, work began in 1970 on the nature center and planetarium, which was dedicated and opened on May 24, 1971.
The amphitheater has been home to many events and programs over the years as an important part of the park’s programs, which annually attract more than 200,000 visitors, making Bays Mountain Park one of Tennessee’s top 50 most visited attractions. It’s among the largest city-owned parks in the nation with 3,550 acres, 40 miles of hiking trails, a state-of-the-art planetarium, wildlife habitats, the lake, and a zip line along with trails for mountain biking.
The gift from Eastman is in celebration of Eastman’s 100th anniversary. “We proudly support this project at one of Kingsport’s most iconic attractions,” said Perry Stuckey, Eastman’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “For more than 100 years, Eastman has proudly called Kingsport our home, and parks like Bays Mountain and its beautiful green spaces are one of the many contributors to our city’s quality of life. We are proud to invest in ensuring that Kingsport remains a sustainable community and a desirable and attractive place to live and work.”
The deer habitat and fox habitat will receive updates as part of this project due to their proximity to the new amphitheater site. The new projects are coming at the end of a momentous year for Bays Mountain Park as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. Other improvements announced this year include the Fox Den Playground and a 3.75-mile legacy trail, currently under construction.
Without Eastman’s support, Bays Mountain Park might never have come to be, and its continued support, including of this $1 million project, makes the park one of the top natural resources in the state.
Thank you, Eastman Chemical. Kingsport appreciates you.
Johnson City Press. Oct. 13, 2021.
Editorial: Herb Greenlee deserves recognition
We can’t think of a better person to honor with his name on the new splash pad at Carver Park than Herb Greenlee.
Herb has been the supervisor at the Carver Recreation Center for 35 years, but his dedication to the community’s young people doesn’t end there.
He’s been a school bus driver, a school security guard, worked at the Boys and Girls Club, coached kids’ sports teams, refereed games and is now a member of the Johnson City Board of Education.
Herb is on the Johnson City Parks Wall of Fame and was a recipient of a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Community Service Award for his contributions to the Black community.
Through his actions over the years, Herb has demonstrated his care for Johnson City and the surrounding areas.
He deserves recognition, and giving the new feature at Carver his name is a fitting honor.
Herb has spent years at Carver Park, helping to build it into one of the city’s most popular recreation facilities. Attaching his name to it will remind generations to come of his tireless service.
City Parks and Rec leaders haven’t yet officially chosen a name for the new facility, but to us, it can only be Herb’s.
The first of two public forums about the name will be held next week at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Carver Recreation Center. The second will be at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 2.
If you have the chance, stop by and show your support and appreciation for Herb.