Kingsport outlines plan for reopening facilities

Matthew Lane • May 10, 2020 at 9:27 AM

KINGSPORT — Restaurants, retail stores and other businesses are starting to reopen all across the Tri-Cities, under specific guidelines recently authorized by Gov. Bill Lee and his administration.

Stores are limiting the number of people inside, wearing masks is being encouraged, and tables are being spaced six feet apart in order to comply with social distancing guidelines.

It would seem life is slowly and somewhat going back to normal.

On the governmental end of the reopening spectrum, Kingsport has announced plans for bringing its programs, facilities and events back online for the public. These guidelines for the reopening of the city are subject to change depending on how active COVID-19 is during the coming months.

In essence, Kingsport has been open and operating, but the work is being done without any walk-in availability, with much of the public interaction being done over the phone, the Internet and through scheduled appointments.

“For the most part, we’ve been able to keep much of our business-as-usual operations in place,” City Manager Chris McCartt said.

According to city records, Kingsport has not furloughed any employees, though a number of temporary and seasonal positions have not been filled. McCartt said Kingsport has 22 open and 29 seasonal positions not being filled, including more than 70 temporary employees at the Aquatic Center not on the job.

Out of the more than 700 employees on the city’s rolls, 57 are working from home full time, 48 are on an intermittent basis and three on an as-needed basis.

When it comes to specific departments and facilities, McCartt offered a rundown of many according to the latest reopening guidelines:

— Bays Mountain Park remains open; however, the Nature Center, Herpetarium, Farmstead Museum, and Observatory remain closed and no public programs are being offered. The dam is also closed and the Summer Day Camp program has been canceled.

— Board of Mayor and Aldermen meetings have been closed to the public and city leaders have been meeting via video conferencing. This will remain in effect through at least May 18. The meetings can be watched live at www.kingsporttn.gov.

— The Customer Service Center has been relocated to 109 Clay St. (the former KATS station).

— The Kingsport Aquatic Center remains closed, per the governor’s order.

— The Kingsport Carousel is closed until further notice.

— The Kingsport Farmers Market could open by the end of May, McCartt said, adding he has tasked the manager to see what could be put in place that would protect both the customers and the vendors as much as possible.

— The Kingsport Public Library remains closed, though a majority of other regional libraries are planning to begin curbside service on June 1. More information about the reopening of the library will be released later this month.

— The Kingsport Senior Center will remain closed until May 29, per the governor’s order.

— Parks and Recreation: Kingsport’s parks are open, but playgrounds, the skate park and basketball courts remain closed. All athletic fields, community centers (including Allandale and the Civic Auditorium) are closed as well. No decision has been made about the opening of the summer camp program, shelter rentals and the splash pad.

For additional information about city services and departments, visit www.kingsporttn.gov.

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