By Dave Ongie, News Editor
The whole thing started with an odd request.
One day a little over two years ago, Grant Summers called Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock, who was a commissioner at the time, and asked her to meet him at the Dairy Queen downtown.
“I thought that was pretty odd, because it was a little bit cold that day,” Brock said.
When Brock got there, Summers drove her up to a piece of property perched high atop Tannery Knob and began telling her about plans to build a mountain bike park.
“Grant asked me if I thought the other commissioners would be interested,” Brock recalled “I said to him, ‘Bring them up here.’ He did, and they were.”
There were quite a few people atop Tannery Knob last Friday afternoon as a ribbon was cut to officially open Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park, which Summers recently handed over to the city. The public-private partnership between Summers and the City of Johnson City begat the Park and Recreation Department’s 16th park, a scenic 40-acre plot featuring seven single-track trails and a paved pump track.
Hopes are high that the $540,000 investment made by the city toward the development of the park will result in increased tourism dollars, but all involved see the park as a great asset to improve the quality of life for residents of Johnson City and the region as a whole.
“This is a landmark day not just for our city, but the entire region,” Brock said. “Avid mountain bikers already know and love this facility, and we want our citizens to become familiar with it, too. There are biking trails for all levels, hiking trails for those who prefer to walk and everyone can come to Tannery Knobs to enjoy the best views in the entire city.”
While Summers was the one who transferred the land to the city, he gave the lion’s share of the credit for the project to the Tannery Knobs Task Force – which was spearheaded by Abraham McIntyre – as well as SORBA Tri-Cities and others. Once Summers and his father Rab decided the property should become public land, he said Dan Reece was the one who planted the idea to put a mountain bike park on the property.
“The concept of a mountain bike park kind of evolved over time,” Summers said. “Abraham McIntyre was the head of our little task force and really helped ramrod a lot of this through.”
Later phases of construction will include paving of the parking lot as well as permanent restrooms. For more information on Tannery Knobs, visit www.ridetk.com.