City council hears updates on new drug recovery center, downtown sidewalk

Published 2:56 pm Friday, September 9, 2022

BY ROBERT SORRELL
Star Correspondent
A local criminal court judge told the Elizabethton City Council on Thursday that the new Northeast Tennessee Regional Recovery Center will likely begin housing residents next spring.
Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street updated council on the new facility, which will open at the former state prison in Roan Mountain. Street and Criminal Court Judge Lisa Rice have spearheaded the plan and have worked with local governments to support opening the facility.
Council members learned the center is finalizing a lease with the state. The center would pay $1 a year for five years, according to the proposed lease agreement, Street said.
In addition, Street noted that the center has already been approved for funding through grants and local municipalities. Counties and cities across the region are using money obtained through the “Baby Doe” opioid lawsuit settlement.
The $10.4 million project is an intensive 12- to 18-month program and will feature 185 beds. Street said it will cost $1 million to open and have annual operating costs of $1.3 million.
Mayors of cities and counties within the First Tennessee Development District will sit on the center’s board, Street said.
The judge said the center will likely begin housing residents in the spring of 2023.
“This was Judge Rice’s idea,” Street said. “She dreamed it up.”
Street said he and Rice are not involved in financing for the project.
The council also heard an update on plans to create a sidewalk encroachment ordinance in downtown Elizabethton.
City Manager Daniel Estes said that the city was working on the ordinance before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pandemic temporarily stopped the planning.
If approved, businesses in downtown would be required to apply to conduct business on the sidewalk. There are currently seven businesses that use the sidewalk, including restaurants, the city said.
Restaurants doing business that encroaches upon the sidewalk would have to install a black metal fence, especially those that serve alcohol.
Although council passed no motions regarding the planned ordinance, members discussed passing such an ordinance and beginning enforcement next spring. City staff has been working with downtown businesses to prepare for the ordinance.

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