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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

V.O. Dobbins Center: TWO Community Rooms, Instead of One

There will definitely be community space in the newly-renovated V.O. Dobbins Center in Kingsport.

But make that that TWO community rooms, instead of one.

Chris McCartt, Kingsport's Assistant City Manager for Development says, a recent Kingsport Times-News article on August 3rd, left the impression that only one Community Room is being built.

"We are indeed planning to build a Community Room for the residents of the new HOPE VI homes in Riverview," sqays Mr. McCartt. "That is definite. We have been planning that one, because every public housing complex in the city has a Community Room for meetings, gatherings and events like weddings, birthday parties and reunions."

That one will be located in the area just off the old Douglass Gym, in the ballfield where baseball was played. Bulldozers and front-end loaders have been dredging that area for several weeks, replacing the soft dirt with the shale and clay necessary to support a heavy structure.

But it's not the only large meeting room going in.

The original Douglass Community Room will be built where first-floor classrooms already are, that will be renovated and walls taken out. The Douglass Alumni Association headquarters and offices will be located just off that Community Room.

"That particular room will be available for board meetings of the Alumni Association, the United Way, and the other organizations in the adjacent non-profit tower. That community room can also accomodate neighborhood events and other meetings, as designated by the city."

Both Community Rooms will be the same size, about 8,900 square feet. The HOPE VI-KHRA Community Room is being built from the ground up, at a cost of $1 million dollars. Cost of the Douglass Community Room is built into the original $8 million dollar cost of renovating the whole building, and will cost considerably less, as the space for that particular room is already enclosed.

For the HOPE VI-KHRA Community Room, "first right of use refusal will be for the Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Authority," says Mr. McCartt, "which will also have various offices there, much like the big rooms at Robert E. Lee and Cloud Apartments. If you remember, the old Riverview Apartments Community Room was in the old Carver Library, to the left as you entered the front door.

"The Douglass Community Room will be much more personal," he says, "as it will contain memorabilia and mementoes from Douglass High School and the Riverview Community. It will house a custom-made display case for those, and also a trophy case that is being specially designed right now, to hold the Douglass athletic trophies."

Mr. McCartt says, the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department, who will also have offices in the the renovated building, will handle the booking and renting of that Community Room, outside of meetings and events of the non-profit agencies.

"One thing we do not have a lot of in Kingsport," he says, "is meeting space. I think this type of facility will meet some of that demand in terms of two Community Rooms of moderately large size that the city needs."