KINGSPORT — About $5 million worth of upgrades and renovations are in the works at Warriors Path State Park, with the first phase being a new RV campsite currently under construction on the old overflow campground property.
However, the scope of the improvements is not as grand as originally planned. Officials said a couple of the phases had to be cut due to the final price tag of the project.
Regardless, the park will be getting a new RV campsite, a new and larger marina, and new and expanded slips for boats. And it all should be ready for visitors by this time next year.
Two years ago, park officials announced Warriors Path was on tap to receive more than $5 million worth of upgrades and renovations — the first major project of its type in more than 40 years.
The project included four aspects: upgrading the water main, building a new marina, expanding the RV campground and renovating the recreation center on Duck Island.
However, when the bids came in, all of them were more than the $5 million projected cost, said Robert Reedy, lead architect on the project.
“The low bid was $6.9 million and it got worse from there. The next was $7.4 million and then $7.9 million,” Reedy said. “Those came in just prior to COVID in 2020, and we knew there wasn’t going to be $1.7 million available to go to contract. So we had to back up and punt.”
And that meant scaling back the project. The renovations to Duck Island had to be removed entirely.
That work included upgrading the picnic shelters and bathrooms, converting the recreation center into a welcome center, and adding basketball and tennis courts.
“At some point in the future, we hope to do the rest of the project. It’s just all in the funding cycles,” said Sarah Leedy, park manager.
THE OVERFLOW CAMPGROUND
The low bid for the remaining work came in $11,000 under budget, which meant work could get underway on transforming the overflow campground on Hemlock Road into a 40-slot RV campsite.
What was once a primitive campground with gravel roads will soon have paved campsites, three concrete handicapped sites, and eight pull-through sites — all with electricity, water and sewer for the trailers and RVs. The picnic pads will be 9 by 12 feet, and RV slots will be 20 feet wide and 60 feet deep, Leedy said.
“The overflow campground was under-performing financially for the park, so it made more sense to (improve) it. Then we’ll go back to the drawing board and try and get the renovations for our existing, main campground,” Leedy said. “We prioritized with a complete package at one site instead of partial packages at two.”
If everything goes right, Reedy said the new campsite will be substantially complete by Aug. 8 and open to the public sometime this fall.
NEW MARINA AND DOCKS
Since the existing 2,500-square-foot marina is 50 years old and a mishmash of pods, Leedy said it wasn’t feasible to renovate the building. The plan is to build a 4,300-square-foot marina in the parking lot next to the existing building. Once the new marina is constructed, the old one will be demolished.
The new facility will have a snack bar with a larger dining facility, public restrooms, a fire pit, and a desk for rental space and boat ticket sales all under one roof, Leedy said. Just outside will be 40 covered slips for boats and eight uncovered slips for temporary rentals.
“What you have right now are double slips, only about 8 foot wide. With the size of boats now, people are having to rent one 16-foot slip for one pontoon boat,” Leedy said. “So with the 56 slips we have, we’re only able to rent to about 30 boats.”
The new slips will be 12 feet wide and 28 feet deep and will actually hold 40 boats. Plans allow for an additional 20 slips next to the new docks.
Work on the marina and docks is expected to begin in the coming weeks. If all goes according to plan, Reedy said, the docks could be usable next spring with the marina open for business by July 2022.