The Town of Dungannon (population: 350) is nestled adjacent to the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest and on the banks of the Clinch River. Located in Scott County in southwest Virginia, Dungannon is named after a community in northern Ireland. Though Dungannon is in Virginia, it is very close to the “Tri-Cities” region in Tennessee, consisting of Kingsport, Bristol, and Johnson City, TN.
Dungannon is a gateway to the world-renowned Clinch River as well as hiking and scenic vistas of the High Knob recreation area managed by the US Forest Service. The Scott County Horse Park, on the outskirts of Dungannon, is a regional destination for equestrian enthusiasts who attend shows and festivals throughout the summer. The Flanary Archaeological Site, on the other side of town, has evidence of Native American occupation dating back 8,000 years. Cyclists and motorists frequent the surrounding mountain roads to take in views of the Clinch River, waterfalls, and historical buildings along the Dungannon and Clinch River Scenic Road Tour.
The Town began efforts in 2014 to revitalize its downtown and restore economic stability to its community that leverages its abundant cultural and natural assets. Several of those assets include the Clinch River, the High Knob recreation area, the Scott County Horse Park, and the Flanary archeaology site. Dungannon has since been awarded an approximately $800,000 grant through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) . This grant focused on the downtown core, bringing various physical improvements to sidewalks, building facades, and creates a community greenspace with a farmer’s market. Virginia’s DHCD also awarded Dungannon a $100,000 Revolving Loan Fund grant that provides new entrepreneurs in the community access to local funds that kick starts their efforts or expands their services.
These two grants established a strong coalition of community members that continuously look to improve their community. Despite the current momentum, there were still several physical improvement projects that lie outside the capabilities of existing funding, specifically in areas that targeted community youth. A central theme of Dungannon’s vision is to become a safer and healthier place for youth to grow up and return to live over the course of their life. There currently is limited access to youth oriented facilities, such as playgrounds and outdoor learning. The Town of Dungannon partnered with the Dungannon Development Commission, Dungannon Intermediate School, Dungannon Youth Program Committee, and the Appalachian CAD Agency to create a new playground and environmental learning trail in Dungannon to serve the surrounding area. CDAC’s collaborative engagement process brought the community’s diverse ideas together into a conceptual design for a town playground that fosters physical exercise, provides environmental education opportunities, can be feasibly built, and maintained by the community.
Project team: Elizabeth Gilboy, Nick Proctor, and Alexander Jones