[Bristol-Birds] City budgets $765,000 to double size of Steele Ceek Nature Center

  • From: "BBC Net" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "'Bristol Birds'" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 18 Jun 2015 02:43:25 -0400

Steele Creek Park Natue Center will double in size

with $765,000 budgeted in Fiscal 2016 city budget !

Steele Creek Nature Center building.jpg

The City of Bristol Tennessee will begin work this summer on a major

project to expand the Steele Creek Park Nature Center which will double

the size of the present facility from 2,600 square feet to 5,200 square

The city's Fiscal 2016 budget includes $765,000 for the expansion.

The budget runs from July 1, 2015 thru June 30, 2016.

Bill Sorah.jpgCity Manager Bill Sorah said at a public

budget meeting held May 19th and seeking

public feedback in what the city called

"Bristol Exchange" that the expansion

of the Nature Center will commence and

complete due to the new revenue stream

from the gate fee to the park being able to

pay the debt service for the bonds

payable required to fund the project.

The Steele Creek Park Nature Center showcases the natural history

and beauty of Steele Creek Park. Inside you find live animals and

educational displays about the natural world inside Steele Creek Park.

It is also the center of many outdoor and natural history meetings and

events held at the park.

This is at least the second time the city has included the Nature Center

expansion in the budget with a $250,000 expansion project in the

Fiscal Year 2009 budget. Jeffrey J. Broughton was city manager

under that budget and it failed to materialize. Sorah was then

a Deputy City Manager for Public Works.

"We hope, in the coming years, we hope to announce a big renovation

and addition to the Nature Center which is a very important part of the

park because this is our educational wing," Terry Napier, director of the

Parks & Recreation Department said earlier this year in a television


The park is supported by a strong and dedicated friends group.

Friends of Steele Creek Nature Center and Park is a private, non-profit

organization whose purpose is to "aid the Steele Creek Park Nature Center in

reaching its defined mission of being a conservation center within the

community of Bristol where land and people can be united for scientific,

cultural, recreational and educational pursuits."

The Friends raise thousands and thousands of dollars every year to fund

research, build needed facilities, conduct Wildlife Weekend and bring

corporate, governmental and educational opportunity and resources beyond

compare. Wildlife Weekend at the park is very special.

The Friends group has been the constant driving force and focus for the

Nature Center expansion for nearly 10 years.

The Bristol Bird Club has long had a region-class partnership with the

Center -- funding projects and providing leadership and talent for park

activities. At least six members of the Bristol Bird Club have served
recently or

serve now on the Friends Board of Director or as officers - Michele Sparks,

Sheri Hiter, Wallace Coffey, Ellen Parker, Janice Martin and Ken Hale.

The natural history and park resources program, supported by funding and

dedication from the Bristol Tennessee City Council and government, operates

from an excellent blue print. The first was a major 1992 "Steele Creek

Center Development Plan" and a council-appointed 1997 "Steele Creek Park

Center -- A Vision for the Future" committee. Several former and present

Bristol Bird Club members both participated in the design and chaired the

projects as well as served on the guiding committee.

The Junior Naturalist Program has produced top young leadership and

naturalists. In years past the volunteers and park staff have become

professionals in wildlife management, natural resource agencies and leading

academic faculty at major universities. The alumni from the youth program

impressive. The park's first naturalist is on the faculty at the University

Kentucky and has built research stations in Asia. At least four former

naturalists from the payroll have completed or are near completion of

doctorates. Among them is the prominent director of the School of Natural

Resources at The Ohio State University and the Secretary of the American

Ornithologists' Union - all key members of the Bristol Bird Club.

Wallace Coffey

Bristol, TN

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