Work begins on Dayton’s $4.8 million BlueCross BlueShield Healthy Place at Pendergrass Park

Staff Photo by Olivia Ross / Work continues on Pendergrass Park on Tuesday in Dayton, Tenn. Once complete, the area will have a splash pad, fitness area, pavilions, benches, ramped and accessible play area and restrooms.

More play is on the way in Dayton, Tennessee.

Construction is underway on $4.8 million in upgrades and additions at the town's Pendergrass Park to add a splash pad, fitness area, pavilions, walking track and ramped play areas for children thanks to BlueCross BlueShield's Healthy Place Program.

Pendergrass Park on Main Street has generally focused on providing local children a place to play with a couple of playground installations and swings, small climbing structures, slides and grassy play areas. The small pavilion doubled as a building for restrooms, and some of the park's features were beginning to age.

The park is now closed for construction.

Dayton applied for Healthy Place funding in hopes of adding amenities that make it a gathering place for people of all ages, company officials said in a news release about the project. Amanda Haskew, spokesperson for BlueCross BlueShield, said Wednesday in an email officials hope to open the new park later this fall.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga City Council unanimously approves new long-term vision for city's park system)

The project is funded through a $4 million investment by BlueCross BlueShield's Tennessee Foundation, plus an additional $800,000 in a maintenance fund, according to Healthy Place officials.

"We are excited to partner with the city of Dayton on the revitalization of Pendergrass Park," Healthy Place Program Manager Keith King said in the release, "and we look forward to adding new amenities to this popular space that will encourage even more residents to visit."

Main features

— Ramped, accessible play areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12.

— Splash pad.

— Fitness area.

— Pavilions.

— Benches.

— Restrooms.

Source: BlueCross BlueShield Healthy Place Program


Mayor Hurley Marsh praised the coming upgrades and additions.

"It will be great to have an inclusive and accessible facility here in Dayton that everyone can enjoy," Hurley said in the release.

(READ MORE: Little Debbie Park in Collegedale set to open)

The launch of work is generating interest, according to Tammy Colvin, assistant to City Manager Tom Solomon. Solomon couldn't be reached for comment.

"So far everything's going well," Colvin said Wednesday in a phone interview. "We're excited to see all the changes, and it'll be nice when they get it done."


Plans call for two ramped, accessible play areas for ages 2-5 and 5-12, according to project information. Both play areas will be fully accessible for children of all abilities with ground-level play activities throughout and a poured rubber surface.

The splash pad will feature ground-level sprayers and a "massive splash" feature, plans show. The area and its features will be accessible to visitors of all abilities.

The fitness area is designed for adults of all abilities and fitness levels, plans show, and it allows up to 10 people at a time to work toward health and wellness goals.

(READ MORE: Music fundraiser concert to benefit special needs park planned for Ringgold, Georgia)

Two community pavilions will provide covered space for parties and events, plans show. There will be restroom facilities, and benches will be scattered throughout the grounds. A walking path will weave around and through the other new features.

BlueCross BlueShield's nonprofit Tennessee Foundation provides funding for the Healthy Place program, officials said.

Pendergrass Park is at 107 Main St. across from the Rhea County Welcome Center and takes up most of the block except for two private residences on the southwest corner, according to state property records.

Contact Ben Benton at [email protected] or 423-757-6569.