Johnson City Commission gives OK to build Science Hill field house

Gary B. Gray • Jul 18, 2014 at 9:58 AM

City commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved a more than $2 million contract with Johnson City’s J.E. Green Co. to build the new Kermit Tipton Stadium field house.

“This will add to the footprint of Science Hill to make it one of the most prominent high schools in the state,” said Commissioner Jenny Brock.

The company now has the green light to begin construction July 28.

The contract calls for the company to achieve substantial completion by July 26, 2015. Should that not happen, J.E. Green would be liable to the city for $500 each consecutive day beyond that date, most likely meaning that amount would fall off the contract price.

On July 3, commissioners unanimously approved the bid contingent on the Johnson City Board of Education voting several days later to restore $400,000 to its capital projects fund to help build the facility.

Commissioners have agreed that the city will finance nearly $1.3 million to launch the project. There is more than $900,000 cash on hand from donations. Another $400,000 reallocated to the project by the Board of Education will be used to help make debt-service payments. Additional revenue is expected to roll in from advertising, parking fees and future donations.

“We appreciate them following through,” Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin said about the school board. “It would have been difficult for this to happen without that.”

Johnson City’s Beeson Lusk & Street designed new locker rooms, showers, training room, coaches offices and weight-training room, as well as room to move seventh- and eighth-grade activities out of Freedom Hall and into the new field house when not in use by varsity sports.

Commissioners also deferred a third and final reading of an ordinance to amend the city charter to allow municipal elections to coincide with the November general election.

City Manager Pete Peterson said he had not yet had the opportunity to meet with Washington County Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart regarding more specific information on how the number of polling places might be affected. Commissioners were unanimous in their decision to hold off on the final vote.

“If we reduce the number of polling places, are we going to decrease the number of voters?” Brock asked. “I just don’t want to do that.”

If approved on third reading, the matter will be put to voters during this year’s Nov. 4 election in the form of a question and “yes” and “no” choices.

Washington, Carter and Sullivan county election commissions would place the proposed amendment on the ballot. Commissioners elected in April 2011 (Mayor Van Brocklin, Vice Mayor Clayton Stout and Commissioner Jeff Banyas) whose terms expire in 2015, would have their terms extended to December 2016. Commissioners elected in April 2013 (Commissioners Jenny Brock and David Tomita), whose terms expire in 2017, would have their terms expire in December 2018.

Meanwhile, commissioners OK’d a stainless steel sculpture by Duke Oursler and Marc Moulton titled “Genesis” to grace Founders Park’s west side entrance off Sevier Street. The Johnson City Public Art Committee chose the piece from a field of 19 proposals.

The sculpture is about 15 feet tall and 14 feet wide. It depicts the images of many of the locally pollinating birds, insects, animals and indigenous flora and fauna found in Tennessee.

Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said the new furnishing will cost about $47,000, which already was in the city’s budget for the park project.

Follow Gary B. Gray on Twitter @ggrayjcpress. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp.

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