The Elizabethton City Council met in regular session for their November 2023 meeting at 6 pm on Thursday, Nov. 9 inside the City Council Chambers at the Elizabethton City Hall.
Greg Key of West Side Christian Church opened the meeting with the invocation as the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Mayor Curt Alexander.
Council approved the minutes of the October 12, 2023 meeting before moving on to address the new business items that were on the month's agenda. A resolution to consider adoption of the downtown Elizabethton Community Mobility Plan was approved 6-0.
In December 2021, City staff made application to the Tennessee Department of Transportation's (TDOT) Urban Transportation Planning Grant program. The purpose of the program is to provide transportation planning assistance to communities located in MPO (Metropolitan Transit Planning Organizations) areas. Following submission of the application, the City was made aware that it had been awarded the grant in Spring 2022. TDOT removed the match requirement and the $175,000 planning grant was awarded at no cost to the City. The only requirement of the City was to adopt the plan upon completion.
It is important to note that this document is only a plan and, while it makes recommendations regarding funding opportunities, it does not secure funding for large-scale capital improvements. The hope is that, through this plan's adoption, it can lay the groundwork for future grant applications for funding should Council seek to pursue the recommendations contained within the planning document.
Staff recommended adoption of the plan in accordance with TDOT's expectations as a awardee of the grant.
Council also voted 6-0 to approve the award and contract for the mural project "History in the Making" to Caitlin Maupin. On September 26, 2023, the City of Elizabethton put out a Request for Qualification from artist(s) and/or art teams to paint a mural located at 518 Hattie Avenue in Elizabethton. Maupin will assist with mural workshops to train on painting techniques and guide in project design and implementation with a select group of community members.
The team will paint six murals on polyurethane Fypon panels in a classroom setting (provided by the city) that will be installed by city staff. The City of Elizabethton received three (3) responses to the Request for Qualification. The responses were local, regional, and nationwide.
On a 5-1 vote with Councilman Wes Frazier being the lone no vote, a contract was approved to purchase the former Franklin Fitness Center which was built in 1995. After months of talks and consideration, Ballad Health and the City of Elizabethton have successfully come to terms on the purchase. The City of Elizabethton and Ballad Health have agreed to terms for the City of Elizabethton to purchase the facility for $500,000.
The building will be repurposed as a new Community Center, which will house the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department. The facility's transformation will provide a platform for a broader range of recreational programming and special events, enriching the recreational experiences available to citizens. In addition to recreational activities, the Center will serve as a venue for private, educational, and community meetings, offering a multifunctional space for various purposes.
Council also gave their approval for a Surf Betsy economic impact study. Outdoor recreation opportunities such as Surf Betsy continue to grow in popularity and have provided economic benefits for cities throughout the nation that have the natural resources in place to accommodate those that enjoy mountain biking, hiking and whitewater activities.
At the request of Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Staff and the Surf Betsy Advisory Board, it was recommended to proceed with phase II research of Surf Betsy. After lengthy discussion and a review of River Restorations proposed phase II scope of work, this recommendation includes an economic impact study to be conducted to secure critical answers into how a whitewater park would impact our local economy.
As a part of this research phase, River Restorations would subcontract work and obtain the services of Southwick Associates out of Fernandina Beach, Florida. Southwick Associates is a market research and economics firm specializing in outdoor recreation. For over 30 years, Southwick Associates has established a proven reputation for delivering comprehensive insights and statistics assisting business and strategic decisions across the entire outdoor industry from government agencies, industry associations and non-profit organizations, to affiliated businesses and manufacturers.
A first reading on General Fund FY 2023-2024 Amendment #5 regarding the infield playing surface at Joe O'Brien Field was also passed. During the September regular session meeting, the City Council approved a resolution for the City of Elizabethton to install a new infield playing surface at Joe O'Brien Field along with the construction of a knee wall, seating behind home plate, and new safety netting within the area.
The total estimated amount of the project is $458,714. However, this is to be shared in equal parts by the City of Elizabethton, Boyd Sports, and the Elizabethton City Schools. Each partner's cost for this project is $152,905 but the improvements are for the benefit of the City's infrastructure. While this complete project will be a City-owned asset, the City's share is not currently a budgeted expenditure. A budget amendment will need to be made to account for the City's share of the cost.
Elizabethton's Street and Sanitation department received a 5-0 vote on a resolution to approve a Letter of Intent to purchase 2025 Mack Chassis with Heil DP Python automated side loader garbage truck. The Sanitation Department will be budgeting $464,415.98 int he 2024/2025 fiscal year budget for the new truck. However, there is a possibility of a price increase due to surcharges levied by manufacturing costs.
Purchases, expenses, and bids for the month of October 2023 were approved in the amount of $126, 521 which included three All-Wheel Drive Ford Mavericks from the state contracted price for the Elizabethton Electric Department totaling $80,487 and one F-150 Crew Cab pickup truck through the state contract for the Elizabethton Electric Department in the amount of $46,034.
In other new business the Council approved the following:
A resolution to approve a Request for Qualification and Contract Phase II of the existing Hampton Watershed Trail.
Resolution to approve the City opening a Money Market Savings Account at Carter County Bank for the General Fund.
An ordinance to consider on first reading for City of Elizabethton 2023/2024 Budget Ordinance Amendment #6 for the General Fund regarding Rural Violent Crime Reduction Initiative Grant.
A resolution to approve Seven States Middle Mile Network (SSMMN) "Conditions to Participation" Agreement.
A resolution to approve Items to be declared surplus and sold utilizing online auction (GovDeals).
A resolution to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the Elizabethton Police Department and the Knoxville Police Department for participation in the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program.
A resolution to consider Special Duty Police Services Agreement with the Junior Cyclone Basketball Club.
A resolution to approve an agreement with Carter County Emergency Communications District for police and fire dispatch for the fiscal year 2023-2024.
A resolution to accept Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board Grant.
A resolution to approve TECH Grant. The Technology Grant (TECH) is an annual grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA).
An ordinance to consider on first reading the City of Elizabethton 2023/2024 Budget Ordinance Amendment #7 for the General Fund regarding the TOP Grant, TECH Grant, and Archives Grant for the Public Library.
The next Elizabethton City Council meeting will be at 6 pm on Thursday, Dec. 14 in the City Council Chambers at Elizabethton City Hall. The public is welcomed to attend. If there are comments to be made during the Comments from Citizens portion of the meeting, it is respectfully asked those comments be held to a three-minute time limit.