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
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.