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ORT: Blankenship grant would require public access

According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, accepting a state grant of $480,000 for Blankenship Field, primarily for synthetic turf means that the facilities must be open to the public.

There could be exceptions for previously scheduled events that are coordinated through the Oak Ridge school system, but keeping the facilities open to the public is part of an operational agreement with Oak Ridge Schools that was amended in a 7-0 vote by Oak Ridge City Council on Monday, November 13.

Officials say there will be a bathroom available, and the facilities will be open sunrise to sunset. There could be field rentals as well, according to ORT.

The total project is estimated at $1 million.

The Local Parks and Recreation Fund grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation requires a 50 percent match. The match is supposed to be provided by the nonprofit Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation, and it can be a mix of cash and in-kind contribution.

Besides the synthetic turf, the state grant is also expected to help pay for track improvements, upgraded restrooms, fencing between the football field and track, and improvements to the Cedar Hill trailhead behind the visitors bleachers at Jack Armstrong Stadium, officials said in January.

It’s not clear yet when the work at Blankenship Field will start. No start date has been publicly announced.

The City Council unanimously supported the grant application for synthetic turf at Blankenship Field in March last year. It’s part of the first phase of a multi-million-dollar proposal to renovate Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong Stadium.

Previous work has included replacing the visitors side bleachers and renovating the Broadway Avenue parking lot. Other projects previously reported to be included in the first phase of the work at Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong Stadium include installation of an LED scoreboard with video and media options, a new entrance with ticket booths at field level, and new fencing, visitors concessions and restrooms, and home side bleachers and grandstand.

Phase II of the stadium renovation would include a new home side stadium with expanded locker rooms, press box, and club seating and communications, Oak Ridge Today reported in March 2016.

For more, visit our partners at www.oakridgetoday.com.

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