Council briefly discusses issue of funding regarding Phase II of Hampton Watershed Biking and Hiking Trail

Published 4:22 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

By Buzz Trexler

Star Correspondent

City Council members during regular session on Thursday night briefly discussed an issue of funding regarding Phase II of the Hampton Watershed Biking and Hiking Trail and a report that Carter County had deposited the $6.3 million grant into a six-month, interest-bearing certificate of deposit. 

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 City Manager Estes said the city was under the impression that when the Carter County Commission signed the contract to receive the state grant, the city was clear to proceed with its project.

 “That’s why it was on a previous agenda and council approved that,” he said. “But after that approval at council level, staff heard there may be a difference of opinion or interpretation as to how that’s going to play out.” As a result, Estes said, “We held off on that, did not deliver the contract to the successful bidder, did not give them a notice to proceed. … We have not stuck our neck out on that one. And then we’ve been watching as that process plays out on the county side.”

 Estes said Assistant City Manager Logan Engle and Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains went to the County Budget Committee meeting earlier in the week. “They were there representing the city just to understand what the process was going to be and see how that proceeds,” Estes said. “And I think the commission’s trying to get their arms around how they proceed and in what fashion they do that.” Estes said the committee deferred the issue until next month’s meeting. 

 “What was the reason for putting that in a CD when you knew you were going to need those funds …” asked Mayor Curt Alexander.

 “I don’t know if they are invested in a CD yet or not,” Estes said.

 “I think the intention is they wish to produce a park and rec master plan for the county,” he said, “and to raise the funds to do so they want to have those funds when they’ve received them from the state be idle long enough to raise enough significant funds to pay for that cost.” 

 He and Dr. Robert Acuff, who chairs the committee, have planned a meeting with hopes of improving communication.