Elizabethton City Council greenlights diverse array of projects
Published 11:03 am Friday, September 15, 2023
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BY ROBERT SORRELL
Elizabethton City Council members approved a laundry list of projects on Thursday, including a major water line project at the Doe River, new turf at the baseball stadium, a new golf department, a downtown muralist and upgrades at the firing range.
The City Council approved a motion to replace the baseball infield turf at Joe O’Brien Field. Only Councilman Richard Barker voted against the project.
Work at the baseball field has not been completed since 2001, according to council notes on the project. The field is used by the Elizabethton River Riders and Elizabethton High School Baseball. It had also been used by the Elizabethton Twins.
Over time, the number of games played at this facility is now in the thousands since the last renovations were made, according to Kelly Kitchens, the city’s programming and special events coordinator. The amount of play and the current condition of the field has created safety issues for players, the notes state.
The turf will cost $398,714 and a knee wall, safety netting, poles and concrete will cost $60,000. According to the city. The costs will be split three ways between the city of Elizabethton, the high school and Boyd Sports.
After months of discussion about issues at the Elizabethton Municipal Golf Course, which has been managed for the last five years by Hampton Golf, City Council voted to establish the facility as a city department. Hampton Golf will no longer manage the site. As a result of the vote, the course will be managed by the new city golf department.
The Council’s approval includes a new organizational chart, classification plan, compensation plan and job descriptions for all golf course positions.
Last month, Council met for a workshop and requested that staff develop the required documentation to establish a new department for the golf course. The Finance Department is establishing a budget for the golf course.
Council members unanimously approved a resolution to award a $1,589,250 contract with Merkel Brothers Construction Inc. to relocate water transmission lines out of the bed of the Doe River.
The waterlines transport water from both the Hampton and Valley Forge water treatment plants to the city of Elizabethton. The critical infrastructure has become steadily exposed to erosion in the riverbed, said Elizabethton Water Resources General Manager Jonathan Pleasant.
The city was awarded a $350,000 grant through the Appalachian Regional Commission, with the remainder expected to be covered by a loan, according to Pleasant.
Pleasant said the Tennessee Department of Transportation has now allowed the lines to be relocated onto the existing U.S. Highway 19E bridge at the Doe.
Cost increases following the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the project, Pleasant said, resulting in higher bids than anticipated. The city, however, has been able to lower the costs, dividing the project into two contracts.
Council members also approved a motion to reward Miami, Florida-based artist Ernesto Maranje to create a mural in downtown Elizabethton.
This summer, the city received grant funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission and put out a request for qualifications from artists to create a mural on a building at 109 South Sycamore Street. The city received 20 responses and ultimately chose Maranje for the project.
The Council also approved a budget amendment to start an improvement project at the city firing range on Sugar Hollow Road.
The city has been planning the project for a few years. On Thursday, Council approved an amendment to increase the Police Department’s materials and supplies by $76,000 for the project.
The 844th Engineering Battalion of the U.S. Army Reserve plans to assist the city with construction at the firing range, according to city Finance Director Preston Cobb.