Bids go out this month for Laurel Run Park shoreline erosion project

Jeff Bobo • Apr 3, 2019 at 3:21 PM

CHURCH HILL — Hawkins County officials are hoping to have those huge piles of rock at Laurel Run Park relocated to the shoreline by June, as the park’s Holston River erosion project goes out for bid later this month.

Facilities manager Sarah Davis told the county commission’s Parks Committee Tuesday that there’s a pre-bid conference scheduled at the park on April 15 to give contractors an opportunity to see what needs to be done.

Bids will be opened on April 24 at the county mayor’s office.

The county has set aside $75,000 in grant funding to address an erosion problem at Laurel Run that has cut 6-10 feet off the Holston River shoreline over the past decade.

Last year, the Tennessee Valley Authority contributed 85 truckloads of large rock to the project, which would have cost the county about $50,000 to purchase.

The contractor who agrees to complete the most shoreline for $75,000 will likely get the bid.

“We’re only going to do what the $75,000 will allow us to do, and that’s how it’s going to be bid out,” Davis told the committee. “That’s why they’re going to have the pre-bid conference: Because we have to see the areas that are the worst affected areas, and we’re going to spend our $75,000 (on those areas), and that’s all we can do.”

The park, located just south of Church Hill, has a 2,500-foot-long shoreline, although only 1,881 feet is being considered part of the erosion project.

A short distance upriver from the park is a major bend.

When it rains, the increased current coming around that bend puts pressure on the southern shoreline at the park.

As a result, the park’s riverbank is being undercut, which first creates sinkholes, followed by the collapse of the shore, which eventually washes away.

Over the past decade, trees that were once 5-10 feet inland have either been washed away or are teetering on the riverbank. The park’s walking trail is now only 3-5 feet from the bank in some places.

The $75,000 won’t cover the cost for the full 1,881 feet. The plan is to address the worst areas as much as possible with the available funding and hope that will be enough to stop erosion in the other areas.

Proposed parks 2019-20 budget

The Parks Committee received a rough draft of the proposed 2019-20 parks budget Tuesday.

Following a brief discussion, panel members agreed to take the budget home and study it further before recommending it to the Budget Committee at a later meeting.

Not including the $75,000 shoreline grant, regular park expenditures are expected to increase from $119,442 in estimated actual expenditures in the current fiscal year to $126,237 in 2019-20.

However, that’s down from $128,007 in 2017-18.

What to do with the caretaker’s house

Former Hawkins County Deputy John Young has been appointed parks director, but he will not reside full time at Laurel Run Park, as did his predecessor.

The committee had planned on discussing what to do with the mobile home where the previous caretaker lived, but County Mayor Jim Lee said he’s still considering a couple of ideas for the residence.

Some committee members toured the structure after Tuesday’s meeting.

LRP nighttime security

Commissioner Jeff Barrett asked about security at the park now that there’s not a full-time caretaker living there.

Lee said Young will be staying at the park some nights, but no one will know which nights he’s there. The park will also be covered with 24/7 video surveillance.

$20,000 playground equipment

Hawkins County was awarded a $20,000 grant no-match through the Health Department to promote healthy living.

A playground planner has visited LRP, and the park is receiving a new slide, swing and a couple of pieces of exercise equipment. The equipment is supposed to be delivered in June.

Park hours signage

Barrett said he visited the park recently after it had closed and the gate was locked, and he had to back out until he found an area wide enough to turn around.

Barrett asked that a sign with park hours be posted at some point where a motorist would still turn around if they arrive after hours.

Davis said she has ordered five new signs with changeable closing hours.