TVA has finished the first phase of turning a once devastated area into a new park. It comes after the historic coal ash spill five and a half years ago that cost TVA more than a billion dollars.
When the ash spill hit the area on that fateful December day in 2008, city and county officials were at a loss for words. But now, TVA is working through a project that gives the color green back to an area that has seen so much grey.
They held a dedication of Lakeshore Park in Roane County, outside of Kingston on Friday.
Tommy Charles and his family have 50 years of history in the Roane County neighborhood.
"Our whole life has been there in that house. In this community," said Charles.
He found out he had a heart condition, and for nearly two decades he exercised on the roads in his neighborhood. But in 2008, those roads were polluted during the devastating coal ash spill. He and his family had to decide if they could continue living there.
"At that time you're in limbo, and you don't know what to do. Most people hadn't ever seen anything like that before," said Charles.
TVA bought property that was hit hard by the ash, including Charles' home.
"They made some big offers. Most people took the offer, but we just chose to stay here," said Charles.
They also bought a plot of land looking to build a park.
"The park idea came from people working on the project in TVA as well as contractors. Also members of the community. A lot of public meetings were held following the spill. And a big idea was lets create a green space. And make this a park people can come and enjoy," said Carol Eimers, the general manager of the Kingston Recovery Project with TVA.
Years later, they are cutting the ribbon after turning what was once a disaster zone into what is now called beautiful.
"It's been a good ride. It took a lot longer than anyone wanted to, but nobody knew the enormity of what it took to do this," said Kingston Mayor Troy Beets.
And the park is in Charles' neighborhood.
"We are happy and the park is nice," said Charles.
The park comes with a track of its own so Charles can continue on his family tradition in that neighborhood.
Phase two of the project is expected to be finished by spring of 2015.
TVA expects to have the rest of the ash cleanup finished by the end of this year. And earlier this week, the EPA announced it will have new standards for coal ash regulation by the end of the year.