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Plans to move Boys and Girls club, extend road not complete

May 17th, 2013 9:56 pm by Gary B. Gray

Plans to move Boys and Girls club, extend road not complete

The Boys & Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County may relocate to a site on Silverdale Road if plans to build a road through its current location are approved.

The dynamics at play regarding completion of the Lark Street Extension Project are far reaching, but construction of a two-lane road through the now-rundown Optimist Park and across the current animal shelter property on Sells Avenue remains a perceptually distant accomplishment for stakeholders.

Businessman Guy Wilson requested the road long ago to use for transport. Its construction, at minimum, will consume the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County’s recreational fields and likely require relocation of its facility.

Meanwhile, a replacement must be found for Optimist Park, since federal money was used for its construction and one of the caveats to that funding was that a new recreational site be acquired. City officials also are eager to open up an avenue, not only through which traffic can move, but more importantly, for new development and additional tax revenues.

The issues mentioned above are easily observed and much talked about.

In September, Johnson City commissioners approved the first phase of design and awarded Littlejohn Engineering Associates about $14,000 to perform services, such as required environmental surveys and reports, environmental engineering documentation and impact assessments.

One month later, commissioners announced they had a buyer lined up for the Boys and Girls Club. Just seconds before a vote to approve the consent agenda — an agenda that included a proposal from Johnson City’s Brumit Co. to buy the 6.3-acre lot — the City Commission deferred further discussion.

Commissioners voted to wait until updated appraisals were available on a city-owned site and a possible alternative location at the old Traco manufacturing property on Silverdale Drive — a site Brumit would have to pay for.

That has been done. Nothing having anything to do with the transaction has appeared on any commission agenda since that time.

Robin Crumley, Boys and Girls Club chief professional officer, simply said “nothing” when asked in March what progress has been made concerning negotiations for an alternative site.

“I did talk with (City Manager) Mr. (Pete) Peterson within the last two weeks, and he said he would reintroduce the issue to the City Commission,” Crumley said Friday. “Now that the commission election is over, we are looking forward to revisiting discussions regarding discussions about opportunities for a potential move.”

The Boys and Girls Club site, at 2210 W. Market St., has been the organization’s home since 1969 and has, since the project’s inception, been considered a probable casualty. The club’s board of directors will determine whether the new site is appropriate, but the city will have the final say on whether it is equal or better than the current facility.

Peterson has said Brumit’s proposal still is active and the city is in the process of getting appraisals and reviewing them and discussing details with the company and Boys and Girls Club representatives. He also said that this is a state project and the Tennessee Department of Transportation makes all final approvals.

There still is no specified start date for the project, but the general consensus has been that construction will probably not start before fall.

Guy Wilson’s 11,000-square-foot pharmaceutical distribution and compounding facility, Clinical Management Concepts, was constructed with the expectation the new access road would follow to help serve his ProCompounding Pharmacy company.

It was Wilson who requested a new access road be built from West Market Street to North State of Franklin Road via Lark Street to facilitate truck traffic as the facility came online.

“We actually completed the building last June in anticipation that the new road would be built soon after we completed construction,” Wilson said. “We helped the city qualify for the TDOT grant by promising to build a $1.5 million building and add 25 new employees within 36 months. We actually built a $1.8 million building and have added 20 new jobs in the first nine months.”

The project will lay the initial groundwork for a connection to the other side of West Market that will facilitate the infrastructure needed to develop the area and help open an economic door in and around 30 acres of city-owned land at the former National Guard Armory site.

Forces also are at work to abandon the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter. The new road will cut through this property. But this location now appears to be a temporary stopping point, because the shelter cannot move to its new location until construction of the new animal shelter is complete. The property is purchased, but fundraising for construction is just getting under way.

Meanwhile, the extension also will cut through the middle of Optimist Park, a now-empty patch of land just west of the shelter. Johnson City’s Parks and Recreation Department has been planning for about two years to decommission the old park. The city recently contacted the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to see if part of the city-owned Keefauver farm can be used in this exchange.

Public Works Department Project Engineer Brandon Pachol, who has been designing the road and working with TDOT, said property remaining intact after road construction will be subdivided to make viable tracts for development of commercial property.

Most of the land where the road will be constructed is located on city-owned property, but minor strips of property will be needed from other adjacent property owners. When right-of-way plans are complete, they will be submitted to TDOT for review.

“After all issues have been satisfactorily addressed, the city will enter into negotiations with property owners,” Pachol said. “This process can take many months to complete, sometimes a year or more, depending on the complexity of the acquisition and the needs of both parties.”

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