published Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Grant funds half of Dunlap's Harris Park expansion

Mary Grindstaff, foreground, and Allie Lahmers, watch their youngsters from two adult swings on the playground at Dunlap, Tenn.'s Harris Park. Both said they'd like to see the proposal for an expansion go through.
Mary Grindstaff, foreground, and Allie Lahmers, watch their youngsters from two adult swings on the playground at Dunlap, Tenn.'s Harris Park. Both said they'd like to see the proposal for an expansion go through.
Photo by Ben Benton.

A state grant will fund half the cost of a $350,000 expansion of Dunlap, Tenn.'s Harris Park, reclaiming the sites of the former Sequatchie County Jail and the city's maintenance building.

Yonna Weldon, assistant to Dunlap Mayor Dwain Land and the person overseeing the project, said Monday that the required environmental review is complete and she expects to get more details from the state on Dunlap's matching obligations this week.

"We have been funded about $176,000," Weldon said of funding from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Local Parks and Recreation grant. The city has to balance that with city money or in-kind work.

Weldon said the city's old maintenance buildings will be demolished, along with other in-kind work, as part of the 50 percent local commitment. The buildings were battered by heavy storms in April 2011.

"What we're doing is working with the money they've given us and pulling some plans together," she said. "We'll probably finalize plans over the next two or three weeks."

The current plan is to expand Harris Park's existing footprint to take in the rest of the city block it calls home, but officials will work out details for park features and facilities to get the most bang for the buck, Weldon said.

Dunlap officials have discussed erecting a permanent stage, extending the walking trail onto the additional property and installing a "splash pad" for children to cool off when the summer's heat peaks.

Land said the state has agreed to apply the purchase price of the old jail site as a portion of the city's about $176,000 match. The city paid Sequatchie County $165,000 for the site and building in 2006, newspaper archives show.

Taxpayers "are going to benefit because the previous administration had purchased the property," the mayor said. "In essence, it's really not going to cost the taxpayers much money at all."

Land said he anticipated putting the project out for bids by spring 2014.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com or 423-757-6569. Subscribe on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and follow him at twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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