City of Elizabethton, Ballad Health partner to advance recreational opportunities for city and county residents
ELIZABETHTON, Tenn.— An agreement between Ballad Health and the city of Elizabethton will lead to the reopening of the former Franklin Fitness Center as a community center, the new home to the city Parks and Recreation Department and will facilitate the next phase of a vision to develop the surrounding property into basketball courts and other recreational opportunities for the community.
The agreement was reached following discussions early last summer between Ballad Health Chairman and CEO, Alan Levine, Sycamore Shoals Hospital CEO Dwayne Taylor, Elizabethton City Manager Daniel Estes and Councilman Richard Barker. Local business leader, Bank of Tennessee Chairman Bill Greene, helped facilitate the developing project.
As part of the agreement, the city will acquire the facility, located on the Sycamore Shoals Hospital campus, for $500,000 – significantly below the market value of $900,000, which Ballad Health recognized in its year-end financial statements for the fiscal year ending on June 30. The net price reflects an in-kind contribution of $400,000 by Ballad Health to the city. City officials will consider the final deal at the Nov. 9 Elizabethton City Council meeting. If approved, the sale is expected to close this fall. The deal includes all existing equipment as well as the surrounding property.
In addition to opening the facility as a fitness and community center, the city will also house its Parks and Recreation Department in the building, relocating its administrative functions from an aging facility in need of repairs. Community members will be able to take advantage of the facility’s meeting room for special events. As part of a longer-term vision, the city, with Ballad Health’s support, will seek state grants and investment to develop the surrounding property for other recreational uses, such as basketball courts.
“Ballad Health and its predecessor have been part of the Elizabethton and Carter County community since 1998 when the hospital’s previous owner left the region,” Levine said. “In my 10 years here, I can think of no partnership that has been as productive and positive as the relationship we have mutually shared with the great elected and city leaders in Elizabethton. Their vision to expand recreational opportunity for children and families is precisely the type of shared goals we have for the community.”
“Our city is extremely proud of Sycamore Shoals Hospital, and we remain grateful for the forward-looking vision of Ballad Health to continue supporting our efforts to provide our citizens with good health care and access to recreational opportunity,” Barker said. “We are delighted to see how Ballad Health is investing in our community through the expansion of the surgical services there, new 3-D mammography for women, and in the clinicians they provide to our citizens. This new partnership further expands the use of the Sycamore Shoals property in a way that helps the hospital grow right along with the city. This prime location also allows for expanded outdoor activity and allows for student-athletes to use the equipment whenever it's needed.”
“Partnerships like this between private businesses like Ballad Health and public entities demonstrate that our city is interested in economic growth and welcoming to those who want to help make the lives of our citizens better,” Barker added. “We are very thankful to have this partnership with Ballad Health.”
The former Franklin Fitness Center was instrumental in Ballad Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic when it was used as a community vaccination access center for the public. Discussions with the city about the future of the facility and property began soon after, with the ultimate agreement being reached in early June 2023.
Ballad Health continues serving the Carter County community with a wide variety of inpatient and outpatient services. Sycamore Shoals Hospital provides 24/7 emergency services, geriatric psychiatry, imaging and radiology services and multiple surgical services. Additionally, Ballad Health has invested more than $2 million in additional capital into the facility for new 3D mammography and other infrastructure updates. The health system also provides the community access to care through continued physician recruitment to the area and several Ballad Health Medical Associates locations throughout the city and county, including the Ballad Health CVA Heart Institute in Elizabethton, a pulmonology clinic, a sleep clinic and several family and internal medicine locations.
For more information about Sycamore Shoals Hospital and other Ballad Health services in Carter County, please visit www.balladhealth.org.
For more information about the City of Elizabethton, please visit www.elizabethton.org