News Article

Dec 28, 2018

Sesquicentennial Commission launches legacy project fundraising campaign

Johnson City’s Sesquicentennial Commission is offering citizens a chance to leave behind a legacy as part of the City’s 150th birthday.

A two-part Legacy Project located in the King Commons area of downtown will include a Natural Adventure Area with state-of-the-art play features to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for people of all ages and abilities as well as a History Plaza that will incorporate important historical dates and facts relevant to Johnson City’s heritage.

“We were tasked with designing a project that would honor our City’s history while fueling its future by nourishing the local economy and encouraging community engagement,” said Donna Noland, a member of the Sesquicentennial Commission Fundraising Committee. “The design and features included in this Legacy Project reflect the interests and suggestions of residents and business owners, and upon completion will serve as a tangible reminder of this milestone birthday.”

As the engineering and design phase for the project nears completion, the Fundraising Committee is asking community members and businesses to support the project through monetary or in-kind donations. Naming rights of play features are also up for grabs.

The City of Johnson City has committed $1.3 million in funding for the Legacy Project, including the engineering and design work currently underway by Barge Design Solutions. As part of a workshop session on Dec. 19, City Commissioners expressed their satisfaction with new design renderings.

Noting the project’s proximity to the public library, designers have included an outdoor classroom and a storybook station in the Natural Adventure Area as well as more traditional playground items such as a slide, climbing features, and a musical play area.

The History Plaza prominently features the three-star emblem of the Tennessee state flag, which was designed by Johnson City resident LeRoy Reeves. Stone bands circling an ornamental dome would highlight significant events and people in City history.

Both areas meet the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act standards, including ramps, bridges and a variety of seating options available throughout. A restroom is also included in the plans.  

According to Dr. Jon Smith, associate professor of economics at East Tennessee State University and the director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, downtown parks increase downtown foot traffic and become urban gathering spaces where visitors linger. The increase in downtown foot traffic has a direct relation to increased sale volumes. As retail sales rise, property values, rents and tax collections also increase.

“This has the potential to be transforming for Johnson City, especially the downtown area,” said Noland. “Not only will this Legacy Project create a community space but it will also inject dollars into our local economy.”  

In addition to the funds contributed by the City, the Fundraising Committee is seeking to raise an additional $1 million through private funding and grant opportunities. Sponsorship of playground equipment and historical markers are just a few ways the public can contribute. Online donations and commitment forms are available on the Sesquicentennial website,

CONTACT:   Donna Noland

                      Sesquicentennial Commission Fundraising Committee



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