TDEC awards significant grants to Clinton, LaFollette, Luttrell for parks and recreation

(TDEC press release/Staff reports) The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced a $500,000 parks and recreation grant for the City of Clinton for its municipal pool compound.

The grant is part of $7,584,530 awarded to communities throughout the state from the Local Parks and Recreation Fund (LPRF) program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program. The state is also awarding $1,892,642 in grants from the Recreation Trails Program (RTP).

Clinton’s LPRF grant will require a 50-50 local match from the city to pay for the $1 million project.

“We are happy to announce grants that will enhance the outdoor experience in communities across our state,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of TDEC, said. “We want Tennesseans to enjoy recreational activity, and we recognize local leaders need funding to make it happen. These grants help meet that need.”

“These grant dollars are much needed and appreciated,” Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said. “The renovation, restoration and expansion of the Clinton pool compound will allow families to enjoy the outdoors, visit with their neighbors and stay healthy. This will be of great benefit to the entire community.”

“We are excited about the improvements that will be made to the pool compound in our community,” Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, said. “This area is an important part of our city for children and adults alike, and we are excited to make these enhancements so all Clinton residents can enjoy this compound and make lasting memories with friends and family.”

The project in Clinton will “reconfigure and renovate the pool compound,” by removing the current pool and replacing it with a smaller, but ADA-accessible pool and an adjacent splash pad.. The existing bath house and entryway will also be renovated and made ADA-compliant. The pool at Jaycee Park has not been open the past couple of years due to a leak in one of its pipes, as well as the pandemic, which has caused frustration among some in the community.

City Manager Roger Houck, who along with Mayor Scott Burton, learned that the city had received the LPRF grant when WYSH reached out for a comment, said that it will likely be six to eight months before all of the procedural hurdles are cleared, but says that timing is about “perfect,” as the city will be able to receive its Notice to Proceed and bid the contract out early next year, and be ready some springtime to begin work on the overhaul, with a tentative goal of having it reopened to the public early next summer.

Houck says that the city hopes the finished product will feel more like a water park then just a pool, and the upgrades will also include two to three new picnic shelters and repairing the concession stand.

Officials in LaFollette are also celebrating today after TDEC announced a $250,000 parks and recreation grant to develop an amphitheater at Liberty Park which the state says will “include approximately 450 linear feet of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant walkways with a minimum width of five feet, parking upgrades, and lighting.”

“Having an amphitheater will certainly provide a way to showcase live talent, while promoting tourism and the arts within our communities,” Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, said. “I appreciate our local officials for identifying worthwhile projects and for submitting a successful grant application that will benefit the people of LaFollette. I was happy to support it.”

“I am excited these funds have been awarded to build an amphitheater in LaFollette,” Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, said. “This development will bring our community together and will be beneficial to citizens and visitors alike. I look forward to the completion of the amphitheater and congratulate those involved in securing these funds.”

TDEC also announced that a $499,378 parks and recreation grant was awarded to Union County for the town of Luttrell to use for clearing land and making upgrades for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The TDEC announcement states that “Union County will use the funds for land clearing, drainage, erosion control, and stockpiling, placing, and spreading topsoil. It will establish parking access, an entrance road, a gravel lot, and ADA-compliant parking, trails, restrooms, and concessions facilities. It will also go toward soccer fields and a playground.”

The LPRF program provides state funding for the purchase of land for parks, natural areas, greenways, and recreational facilities. LPRF funds also may be used for trail development and capital projects in parks, natural areas, and greenways. The LWCF program provides grants to states to administer to state and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. The grants require a 50-percent match.

The RTP is a federally funded, state administered grant program, providing funds for land acquisition for trails, trail maintenance, trail construction, trail rehabilitation, and trail head support facilities. These grants are distributed in the form of an 80-percent grant with a 20-percent match.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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