The Dickson City Council voted last week at its monthly meeting to move ahead with proposals for a new playground and splash pad in Henslee Park, the purchase of a building for a new Dickson Senior Center and the construction of a third fire station.

The Council voted 6-1-1 with Dwight Haynes in opposition and Michael Outlaw abstaining on authorizing staff to proceed with the $3.2 million playground/splash pad as proposed to include final design documents, site work and construction.

The Council voted 7-1 with Haynes in opposition to authorize Mayor Don L. Weiss Jr. to enter the option to purchase the Dickson Athletic Club to become the new site of the Dickson Senior Center. City Administrator Rydell Wesson said if the purchase is completed, the city’s target date for opening the new center is July 2021.

The Council approved by a 7-1 vote with Haynes in opposition on two resolutions required to borrow up to $4 million through the Tennessee Mutual Bond Fund for the construction of Dickson Fire Department Station No. 3 at the corner of Ridgecrest Drive and Highway 70 East. The loan would include renovations to the new senior center.

Playground project

The design for the playground and splash pad presented by Alisha Eley from Kimley-Horn consists of a 25,000-square-foot playground with 26 features and a 4,000-square-foot splash pad with 20 features.

“This is a huge, huge park,” Eley said, comparing the 29,000 total square feet to 23,000 square feet at the Discovery Park of America playground and splash pad in Union City. She also listed other facilities in Hendersonville (15,000), Murfreesboro (11,000 square feet), Lenoir City (6,000), and Crossville (4,000) as comparisons.

“We want people to come from everywhere and we want them to walk up and see this thing and go back to their hometowns and tell people about it. And they’re going to,” said Parker Chipman, a sales consultant at Recreational Concepts, which helped design the park.

Eley and Chipman described the facility as “multi-generational,” saying it is designed for parent and child interaction, and “inclusive” for children with all levels of disabilities on the playground and splash pad features as well as the ADA-compliant restrooms.

Including the greenspace, Eley said there will be room for 1,200 children and amenities include seating with shade, a pavilion, musical features and unique playground equipment.

Wesson said starting the process now means the park could have a projected opening date of July 2021.

New Senior Center

The council authorized the mayor to sign an option to purchase the Dickson Athletic Club at 100 Payne Springs Rd. from Dan and Sharon Smith to potentially become the new Dickson Senior Center, replacing the facility opened in 1977 on West Walnut Street.

Wesson said the council will be asked to vote on an ordinance to enter a contract for the purchase at a special session on Monday, Oct. 19.

The option will allow the city to perform its due diligence in inspecting the property and to complete negotiations on what equipment will be included in the sale.

At the Sept. 21 Finance and Management Committee meeting, Wesson proposed that the funds to build the Henslee Park facility and the money to purchase the Dickson Athletic Club should come from the city’s fund balance, paying for the facilities outright without incurring any additional debt.

Wesson said the city’s auditors estimate the final fund balance from the end of the 2019-2020 fiscal year will be about $18 million. The playground and the building purchase are estimated to cost a combined $5.1 million. The city’s auditor has said the state Comptroller recommends municipalities maintain a fund balance of at least 25 percent of their annual operating budget. Weiss said the city’s base budget of $21 million would require the city to have a fund balance of $5.25 million.

New fire station

Wesson said the loan would be for the construction of Fire Station No. 3 estimated at $3.3 million with an additional $150,000 needed for renovations to the Dickson Athletic Club.

In August of 2019 the city bought a parcel at the corner of Highway 70 East and Ridgecrest Drive for the location of a third fire station. Chief Richard Greer said the site would improve response times on the east side of the city and also improve the department’s ability to respond to the William D. Field-Dickson County Industrial Park.

The city included funding for site work and excavation in the current budget but Wesson said construction would be budgeted in 2021-22.

Because of the city’s excellent financial position and the opportunity to borrow money at an interest rate less than 2 percent, Wesson proposed that the city go ahead with the bonds to begin construction of the new station with a target of opening in July 2022.

Fire Station No. 1 opened on Church Street in 1964 and Station No. 2 opened on Pringle Drive in 1991 to improve service to the south part of the city.

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