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Johnson City commissioners review list of potential capital projects

Zach Vance • May 7, 2018 at 9:50 PM

From the Knob Creek Road overpass project to the West Walnut Street redesign, Johnson City commissioners meticulously ran through a long list of proposed future capital projects during a budget session Monday night. 

Assistant City Manager Bob Wilson compiled the comprehensive report, at the request of Commissioner Ralph Van Brocklin, but the list lacked any school capital projects. The Johnson City Board of Education will present its capital needs during a Tuesday workshop with city officials. 

Mayor David Tomita was absent for the discussion and Commissioner Joe Wise had to leave early. Meanwhile, the three commissioners present briefly discussed some specifics regarding the various projects, but no official decisions were made. 

Based on Wilson’s report, the city expects to issue bonds totaling about $5.8 million for the Knob Creek Road overpass project, with a projected 2020 start date.

The West Walnut Street improvements were calculated at approximately $8 million, all bonded, with an estimated start date of 2020. Wilson got the $8 million total by estimating the city will spend $1,500 per square foot on the 4,500 square-foot district, plus $1.25 million in estimated other costs. 

Downtown projects include $1.1 million in sidewalk improvements, broken into four separate projects, and $300,000 for a children’s play area. The city also anticipates spending $400,000 to completely reconstruct East Main Street, from Buffalo to Roan streets. 

In regard to Parks and Recreation needs, Wilson anticipates the city spending roughly $8 million on the proposed Boones Creek athletic complex, which would be done in conjunction with Washington County, and $8 million on a proposed soccer field complex on city-owned property next to Boone Lake.

Wilson also included $732,300 to complete the Tannery Knobs Bike Park’s final phase, which includes the purchase of property and trail construction. 

City leaders will continue discussing capital project needs over the coming weeks, and prioritizing projects based on need.   

Development Services

Nearly six months after Angie Carrier resigned as the city’s Development Services director to accept a position with the University of Tennessee’s Municipal Technical Adivsory Services, the city is still searching for her replacement.

City Manager Pete Peterson said he hopes to conduct interviews with candidates over the next 60 days and potentially hire someone this summer. 

“We’ve advertised twice (and) did a couple Skype interviews, in-person interviews, and quite frankly, there weren’t any applicants who were able to fulfill the needs of the job,” Peterson said about the job search. “Where we are now, the person we hire really has to have an extremely strong planning background.”

Without a director, Jim Sullivan, chief building official for the Codes Department, and Assistant City Manager Charlie Stahl presented the Development Services’ $1.59 million budget to commissioners.

The 2019 budget is about $15,905 less than last year’s total, and Stahl said moving two employees from Development Services to Information Technology contributed to the decrease. 

Some of the department’s goals for 2019 include completing a 20-year comprehensive plan and completing the design phase of the West Walnut District. 

Transportation

Johnson City Transit Director Eldonna Janutolo presented two budgets, one for student transportation and one for mass transit, to commissioners duing Monday’s meeting. The two departments, combined, employ 68 full-time personnel, 38 part-time personnel and eigh temporary positions.

For student transportation, Janutolo is requesting $2.32 million, or 0.7 percent more than last fiscal year. One of her goals for 2019 is the need to hire two school bus supervisors to train under current staff, who will be retiring later this year. She also wants to hire a new assistant director of school transportation and purchase 10 new buses — six large buses and four short buses.

The budget Janutolo crafted for Mass Transit is 10.5 percent, or $441,976 more than last year, and includes the addition of a new safety and training coordinator.

One of mass transit’s goals for 2019 includes negotiating a new three-year contract with East Tennessee State University to provide Bucshot transportation.

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