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Tourism Board indicates park upgrades a priority
Rocket Park.jpg
Children play on the merry-go-round at Rocket Park, a city park the Tourism Development Board has targeted for upgrades.

There’s $75,000 up for grabs through a Tourism Enhancement Grant coming out sometime next month. 

The Tourism Development Board came together Monday to brainstorm and share suggestions on ways to apply for the grant money. 

TDB member Mandy Eller opened the discussion by sharing similarities from both the 2019-2024 Parks and Recreation capital plan and the Adventure Tourism Plan.

“A couple of things that coincided with the Adventures and Tourism Plan were park boat ramp improvements at Pepper Branch and Rocket Park,” said Eller. 

Eller listed other improvement options from the capital plan:

• Pepper Branch – New concrete boat ramp, geo web around the ramp, kayak put in and takeout, tie downs for kayak security, and wooden fencing to delineate park.

• Rocket Park – New boat ramp, kayak put in and take out, fishing pier, geo web around ramp, walking paths connecting everything, and open space for free play.

Other ideas began streaming in, including the blueway designation project. However, that would require bigger signs at each put in and take out location, which Eller says is pricey.

TDB member Michael Griffith mentioned the opportunity for potential Highway 8 river access.

“It’s across the Collins River as you are going toward Cumberland Caverns where they are building the new bridge right now,” explained Griffith. “You have an agreeable land owner that owns on both sides of Highway 8 on the city side, the McMinnville side, who is totally in favor of that being public access.”

Griffith also added he would also be inclined to make improvements at Rocket Park as he feels it’s a bit overlooked. 

On a different note, Griffith shared a conversation for tourism that he’d had with the airport board for the possibility of campground capabilities as the county owns the old roadside park on Nashville Highway.

“Apparently these pilots utilize a lot of campground type places and it is a tourism component in a way,” said Griffith. “Anyone could use it and people do fly in for Bonnaroo so we could advertise ourselves in that capacity.”

TDB member John Partin mentioned anything they could do to continue to expand access points on every body of water that’s floatable in our area is a good idea.

“I still think anything that can be done to get access on the Barren Fork above the dam, above Riverfront Park will be time and money well spent,” said Partin. “I think that will be a good access point.” 

Before the meeting was adjourned, alderman Everett Brock reminded the TDB to get McMinnville Board of Mayor and Alderman approval before they apply or accept grant money.

“You can’t spend or accept money without our approval,” said Brock. “It’s a formality, but if you are going to get free money, we are not going to argue against that.”

Everett also pointed out that Highway 8 is outside the city limits.

The TDB typically meets regularly on the second Monday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at the Chamber.