Tackling the old and the new… Elizabethton City Council makes swift work of June agenda

Published 1:17 pm Friday, June 12, 2020

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For the first time since March, the Elizabethton City Council was able to return back to Elizabethton City Hall in an open session to the public of course with social distancing still in mind.
While a first look at the June agenda looked pretty daunting, the Council was able to address articles of old and new business efficiently while also hearing from one citizen and recognizing three proclamations.
The Council heard three proclamations from the hand of Mayor Curt Alexander as Kelsey Frazier and Blair Cahoon were presented the first proclamation¬†recognizing the month of June as Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month in Elizabethton.
Mayor Alexander and the Council proceeded to recognize Louie Hopkins who has spent the last 53 years taking care of the Elizabethton Municipal Golf Course maintenance and agronomic operations.
Hopkins retired from his position on Sunday, May 31, 2020.
The final proclamation was presented to Elizabethton resident Virginia Laws who just turned 100 years young. Laws thanked the Council and Alexander and stated that Elizabethton was just a wonderful place to live.
City Manager Daniel Estes followed by thanking Jon Hartman for his service to the city. Hartman has been with the city for 11 years taking over as Director of Planning and Development for the last eight.
Hartman’s last day with the City of Elizabethton will be on June 26th. Hartman thanked Estes and the Council for their support over the years.
Councilman Richard Barker then asked a question of Park and Recreation Director Mike Mains in regard to the possible acquisition of the Franklin Fitness Center from Ballad Health.
Mains informed the council that he had a very good conversation with Ballad but at this time the current owner doesn’t know in what direction they will pursue with the facility located next to Franklin Pool.
Ballad Health is aware of an interest the city might have in the event that the building is sold. Mains said the facility would be a valuable asset to the town as it would open up more room for classes and meetings.
Mainstreet Elizabethton was given approval by the Council to close down Elk Avenue on Tuesday, June 16th, and E Street on Wednesday, June 17th for approximately four hours from 8 am to 12 noon for the purposes of filming a short promotional video on Elizabethton.
The closures would allow for the company shooting the video to set up staged shots for the promotional video.
In the citizen portion of the meeting, Mr. Bill Schooley who is the driving force behind Surf Betsy approached the Council to give an update.
Schooley said that all the work that can be done to this point has been done and now Surf Betsy is at a fork in the river as they need help with resources to proceed to the next phase of the project.
He informed those in attendance about what the project entailed as it would essential create a park in the river where various recreational events could take place helping the economy with fees, lodging, and eateries.
Schooley stated that the park could be the crown jewel for Elizabethton. The next step would be to hire an engineering firm to take care of such things as the gradient in the river, flood control, and the cost of building the features specific to the river.
Asked after the meeting, Schooley said it would take approximately $20,000 to take care of the engineering portion of the project.
In old business, the Council completed public hearings and second readings of four amendments to be made. Two of those amendments were in regard to budget ordinances for the Capital Projects Fund and for the Police Equipment Fund.
The final two were to amend the municipal code allowing residential units in the B-3 business district and to add a subsection to regulate temporary storage containers.
Council also voted unanimously to approve the 2020-2021 fiscal year budgets for the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and Golf Course.
The first reading was also approved for the 2020-2021 budget and property tax rate ordinance for the tax year 2020 and the Elizabethton City Schools budget for 2020/21.
Further approval was given for a state highway maintenance contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and to approve a software license agreement with 3M Center, Transportation Division, for hosting and sign maintenance for traffic sign inventory and database management.
Chris Mitchell Management Consultants was also retained as an electric rate consultant for the Elizabethton Electric System.
The Council also voted unanimously on an agreement with Mattern & Craig, Inc. who will be instrumental in the road widening project from Pals toward Broad Street.
Work on the project more than likely will be a year away as plans proceed for the project.
Estes also stated during the course of new business that the 2020-2021 budget is particularly lean and he felt the city was very fortunate to build the budget while preserving staff and operational budget.
“There are a lot of projects and priorities on hold,” Estes stated. “It is hard to define due to not knowing how bad things would get.
“We are in a very solid position with the budget that has been put together.”
The second reading for the 2020-2021 budget will be held on June 29th at 4 pm in the City Council meeting room.

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