Tennessee State Parks To Invest Funds, Seek Visitor Input at Booker T. Washington State Park, Harrison Bay State Park for Year-Round Outdoor Recreation Options
Tennessee State Parks will seek input from visitors of Booker T. Washington State Park and Harrison Bay State Park in meetings Dec. 14 and 16, respectively, to discuss replacement options for the swimming pools currently at the parks.
Parks officials announced that the two swimming pools will not reopen. The swimming pools were closed in 2020 and 2021 due to complications related to COVID-19. Reopening the pools is unfeasible due to aging facilities, declining visitation pre-COVID 19 and high expenses. Tennessee State Parks has allocated $400,000 for each of the two parks to invest in new outdoor recreation activities. State parks officials encourage Tennesseans to voice their opinions on options for alternative, year-round outdoor recreational operations at the two parks.
“The swimming pools at Booker T. Washington State Park and Harrison Bay State Park require major maintenance upgrades while usage continues to decline. We believe it is unfair to Tennessee taxpayers for the state to continue to invest in the swimming pools with increasing costs and declining use,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “Fortunately, the Tennessee General Assembly has been very supportive of the parks in recent years, which has allowed us to allocate funding for options that are more fiscally responsible to taxpayers and that visitors can enjoy year-round. We first want to hear from visitors of the parks about what they would prefer and use.”
The funds for the parks will go to options that can be used throughout the year. The swimming pools, in contrast, operated only 70 days each year.
At Booker T. Washington State Park, the pool is over 30 years old, and visitation is down.
At Harrison Bay State Park, the pool is 36 years old, visitation is down 19 percent, and swimming is available in the lake.
The meeting at Booker T. Washington State Park on Dec. 14 will be 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the group camp in the park at 5801 Champion Rd., Chattanooga 37416.
The meeting for Harrison Bay State Park on Dec. 16 will be 5-6 p.m. at the recreation hall at 7855 Bay Marina Circle, Harrison 37341.
Anyone may attend the meetings.