By LARRY SNIDER
Special to The Messenger
People driving along Highway 51 in Union City can easily see visible construction progress for Discovery Park of America. Construction is on schedule for opening expected in the spring of 2013.
The most visible part of recent construction is the concrete core of the tower and the steel on the entry level (second level) of Discovery Center. Concrete for the tower is being poured in 10-foot sections and now is more than 100 feet above the ground’s surface.
When complete, the tower’s glass-enclosed room and outdoor observation deck will be 150 feet high, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and the 50-acre site.
Jim Rippy, chairman of Discovery Park, said: “While we’ve made great strides in the past six months, most of the pro-gress has not been readily visible. That’s rapidly changing as the tower goes up along with steel for Discovery Center, our showcase exhibit building.
“Much of the work in 2011 has been in or on the ground: excavation of the water feature, amphitheater and great lawn; installation of underground electrical, water, sewer and fire protection lines; and site preparation for other buildings on the site. All of these things are essential but don’t provide much evidence of our progress.”
Many of the things about to be done will be much more visible. The tower’s concrete core should be completed in December and steel for Discovery Center is now clearly in evidence on the first level, with some work in progress at the front of the second level.
Bridges are also being constructed over the water feature, including a covered bridge on the south side of the site, for which framing is complete. Two other bridges are at about 95 percent framing completion.
With site preparation almost finished, some log structures will soon be moved to the site. A log cabin, now at the Obion County Museum, will be relocated before the end of the year. Installation of the gristmill will begin early next year. The foundation for the Antique Farm Equipment building is in place and steel erection is nearing completion.
In addition to the buildings, design is complete for the 52,000 square feet of exhibits in nine galleries inside Discovery Center. Construction is now under way for these exhibits.
Rippy added, “We are pleased with the progress to date, but we’re anxious to finish so people can start to enjoy the multitude of things that Discovery Park will offer.”
Discovery Park of America Inc. will be a $100 million educational complex with exhibits and interactive experiences in the areas of history, nature, art and science. The Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation is the principal funding source for Discovery Park.
Architectural renderings of Discovery Center, the 50-acre site and some exhibits are available upon request. Contact Larry Snider for these images.
Published in The Messenger 11.16.11