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This year marks the 150th anniversary of Johnson City, Tennessee. With this in mind, the small city has a number of celebrations planned, many centered in its new showcase park in the heart of downtown – King Commons.

Officially opened on April 6, 2018, the original purpose of the project was to help mitigate recurring problems with flooding. However, plans for the former truck rental facility eventually evolved into a more comprehensive outdoor space that doubles as a place to draw more people downtown and to host public events.

“We’ve taken a flood control project and turned it into a beautiful place,” said Johnson City Mayor David Tomita at the opening ceremony. “Any time you can get two-for-one, it’s a good thing,”

Making a Multi-Use Space

The three acre park has a number of amenities including walking trails, a creek, a mural, parking, an amphitheater for up to 2000 people and an iconic sign with the city’s name. Recently, the city announced plans to add a splash pad and fountain feature to the park as well.

The park also includes new lighting along the pathways and in the parking areas. But as an added challenge for some of the lighting, the city wanted the ability to remove certain bollards during special events. Working directly with the city to understand their requirements, First Light was able to propose a custom solution using WLB solar powered bollards.

Avoiding the Limitations of Wires

Avoiding the need for underground wires has a number of advantages. Not only does it make temporarily removing and re-installing the bollards easier, it avoids the risks of corrosion from standing water in the low-lying area when flooding does occur. In addition to being immune to power outages, avoiding the need for wires lowers install costs because there is no need to trench between lights or install a connection to the electrical grid.

As additional benefits, the louvered design of the WLB fit the aesthetic of the park and the performance of the solar-powered lights has matched or even exceeded the light of the wired lights in the park.

Community Success

The park has been well received in the community with users giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 on Google. It has also attracted new investment to the area with a number of new lofts and businesses recently opened or planned.

King Commons is a great example of a community space with the amenities (and lighting) the community wants to make it safe and successful.