TVA aims for fun

-A A +A
By Terri Likens, Editor

Since the massive 2008 ash spill in Swan Pond, meetings between the public and TVA have tended to be angry and intense.

Not so at an open house in Kingston Tuesday, when agency officials unveiled details on its plans to develop much of the property it has bought up since the spill for recreational uses.

Those uses include ball fields, birding trails and general recreation facilities, although officials said they also are looking at adding firefighting support to the area.

“We want to give the public a really fun and good place to go,” said Katie Kline, general manager for support services in TVA’s Kingston Ash Recovery Project.

Just before Christmas in 2008, an impoundment gave way that held decades’ worth of fly ash from scrubbers. The material burst free in a wave, sending 5.4 million cubic yards of the material across the landscape. Much of it choked the Emory River.

TVA first focused on clean-up — particularly on the river, but now it is turning its sights to other aspects of the post-spill community.

Kline flashed digitally altered slides to show how many areas of the community would look with the removal of structures it purchased from people who wanted to move after the spill.

Among the slides were some showing the Lakeshore Drive peninsula as it would appear with homes razed.
In this area, TVA is proposing a gated, 35-acre dawn-to-dusk park with fishing piers, a boat ramp and walking trails.

Some of the slides were illustrated with overlays showing plans for high-school-sized baseball diamonds, soccer fields and bathroom facilities.

This portion, known as the Berkshire Recreation Area, would be managed by the county and require county funding for much of the infrastructure.

TVA also is proposing the creation of a 240-acre natural wetlands area that emphasizes native plants and wildlife.
Kline emphasized that the plans still are in the design phases and public input is desired.

The plans mark another wave of transformation for the Swan Pond community.

More than 60 homes will be removed, along with many boat docks and other structures.

“This is a project that we’re thrilled to start working with TVA on,” said Roane County Executive Ron Woody to the audience of about 100 people.

Kingston parks and recreation director Rick Ross, who also is chairman of the county’s parks committee, commended the plans.

“It has a lot of potential,” Ross said. “I think that’s what excites me the most.”

Kline noted that there was much TVA was required to do to make things right after the ash spill.

“This is going way beyond that,” she said.