By Gary Gray
Tweetsie Trail trekkers will be a little less inconvenienced, thanks to a public/private agreement for the installation of exterior restrooms at a new business at the north trailhead.
Increased pedestrian and vehicle traffic along the popular trail will soon be serviced by the new Tweetsie Trail Outpost at 701 East Maple St., a bicycle store that also will include recreational goods and parking.
Those offerings now will include restrooms that serve both business patrons and public trail travelers. Today, there is only one portable restroom that services the trailhead — an area less than 1 mile from downtown Johnson City. The next closest public bathrooms on the trail are about 4 miles away in Elizabethton, so the new facility should provide a great measure of relief.
“The concept was they wanted to have a business complimentary to the trail, but they also wanted to provide exterior bathrooms that could be used by their customers as well as trail users,” Assistant City Manager Charlie Stahl said. “Basically, they will construct them. We will reimburse them up to a certain amount and help maintain it. It serves the entire community.”
City commissioners agreed to reimburse the company up to $35,000 for construction. The company will pay electric costs, and the city will pay for water and sewer. The city also will clean the restrooms daily and maintain the interior and exterior appearance.
In July, commissioners approved the rezoning of just under 1 acre owned by Legacy III LLC from medium density residential to supporting central business for what will serve as sort of a hitching post at Maple and Alabama streets.
A concept plan depicts tables and chairs in front of the building, as well as parked bicycles and cars. Property owners also have agreed to provide buffering and a privacy fence.
The property, which was originally constructed in 1922, has been in disrepair. It once supported a business that lost its legal zoning privileges due to deterioration of the structure. The building also was dilapidated to an extent that over 50 percent of its total value had to be replaced, according to building codes.
With the increase in activity, commissioners and city staff agree the location could once again be utilized as a viable business while not putting a strain on the adjacent residential neighborhood.