The City of Kingsport is pleased to announce the first phase of renovations at the Bays Mountain Park Nature Center has begun. GRC Construction is the contractor performing the work for the city.
Phase one work will take place in the main lobby of the Nature Center and include expanding the footprint of the gift shop, renovating and right-sizing employee offices, replacing the carpet in the lobby with vinyl flooring and creating a new, more pronounced entrance to the planetarium.
“The new entrance to the planetarium will be like walking through a portal. It’ll definitely be eye-catching, and we’re excited to see the public’s reaction,” said Park Director Megan Krager.
Currently, the planetarium is closed due to demolition work. Visitors can access the ramp and lower level of the nature center. Construction costs for phase one is approximately $650,000 and work should wrap up in February 2024.
Other renovations taking place during phase one include covering the gallery walls on the main floor with drywall. This modernization effort will create a better sound barrier between the hall and the planetarium and make it much easier to add or modify exhibits on the walls.
Once the new flooring is down in the main lobby, the newer exhibits will return while the older exhibits will be replaced with new ones, such as ones on lake life and the night sky. Kingsport has allocated $31,000 for new exhibits.
A future phase of improvements will focus on the ramp and downstairs area of the nature center.
“Not only are we renovating to update the aesthetics of the nature center, but we’re also putting in new exhibits,” Krager added. “It’s been a long time coming and we believe the public will be thrilled with the changes.”