City leadership to discuss TAD, old hospital property

Published 2:43 pm Monday, February 5, 2018

As focus shifts to projects for the 2018 fiscal year, Elizabethton City Schools and City Council representatives are to set to strategize a few projects that could impact the educational landscape of the community.

Officials will meet in a called workshop Thursday to discuss a variety of topics heading into the new year, including continued renovations of T.A. Dugger Junior High School and the possibility of acquiring property in a three-party agreement for up-and-coming soccer contests in the city.

“One of the topics for Thursday is the continued talks for work at T.A. Dugger. We’re going to have the opportunity to talk with City Council about the preliminary drawings for expansion and make sure all the details are made available before everything moves forward,” said Dr. Corey Gardenhour, ECS director of schools.

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The move for the workshop follows the recent approval of a contract by City Council to allow the Board of Education to enter into a contract with Thomas Weems’ architectural company to offer master planning services in regards to the expansion.

Another key element of the talks, according to the director, is picking the right time for bonds — which are utilized by the school system — to net a positive return for the project.

Funding for the expansion would not be funded by taxpayers, but rather through the school system’s half-cent taxes sale, Gardenhour said. Discussions Thursday would allow officials to learn more about the bond market to decide on an adequate time to move forward with funding.

Improvements at T.A. Dugger call for additional classrooms for STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classes, parts of the building be connected for handicapped accessibility, improvement and add restrooms and demolish portable classrooms that are “20 years past their life expectancy,” according to the system.

Another project that will be discussed in the possibility of utilizing property behind Northeast Community Credit Union, near Elizabethton High School, for a new practice facility for soccer players in the area.

Gardenhour added the idea is within the early planning phases, and would call for a three-party agreement between the school system, Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County and the Elizabethton Soccer Association.

Part of the talks would allow the city to reacquire the land if a possible development or other industry would want to set up in the location, but the director stated that the parties involved would like to utilize the space — which has been vacant for over 20 years.

Much like the BOE, the possibility of having an EHS student serve on City Council could also been in the future.

The director indicated the opportunity would be discussed during the meeting. Much like the BOE, the liaison would not serve in a voting capacity, but allow a “voice for our younger generation” according to Gardenhour.