Plans to further develop stretch of Holston River in the works

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Plans are in the works to further develop a stretch of the Holston River in Kingsport.

One idea is to make the river accessible for white-water activities. City Manager Jeff Fleming says that would help the Model City compete with bigger cities and draw more people to Kingsport.

The Holston River is not only a landmark of Kingsport, but also the fuel for Craig Widner’s business.

“Kayak rentals, we offer kayak sales, we offer tube rentals, we shuttle people up and down river if you have your own kayaks,” Widner, the owner of Grip Outdoor, said.

With city plans in the works to further develop a nearly five-mile stretch of the river to make it white water accessible, Widner said that would open up a whole different line of possibilities for him.

“White water rafting, white water kayaking, we would do some instruction on white water,” said Widner.

The project, Fleming says, spurred from an idea to take advantage of what the city already has – a dam-controlled river. That means water is always flowing.

“You can’t really do anything that’s going to cause flooding or in any way jeopardize the ability of the normal flow of the river,” Fleming said. “You can introduce boulders and rocks to create channels for certain types of rapids.”

That makes way for activities that Fleming says will help Kingsport rival larger cities.

“The whole point is to basically look at how do you make Kingsport a destination. How do you invite visitors and residents to come here? I always think it’s interesting, we’re always looking for that next thing, and sometimes the answer is right under your nose,” Fleming said.

As for a time frame on the project, Fleming said he imagines it to be similar to the Greenbelt, in that the city will probably do a little bit of work at a time over a long period of time.

A white water consultant came to Kingsport in the spring. The city is expecting the results of his study in December. Those results will help determine the cost, and how to move forward with the project.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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