Construction of the Lark Street Extension Project will not consume the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County, though the club’s recreational fields will be moved to accommodate the new two-lane road.
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. The new road will run through the now-rundown Optimist Park and across the current animal shelter property on Sells Avenue.
Public Works Department Project Engineer Brandon Pachol said the Tennessee Department of Transportation has reviewed Johnson City’s engineering plans.
“We expect TDOT to issue an order in a couple of weeks that will allow us to proceed with obtaining rights-of-way, which includes negotiations with property owners near State of Franklin,” Pachol said. “This is where we’re at. The engineering has been going on for more than two years.”
Pachol said the new road will begin where the short section of Lark Street on the west side of Optimist Park now ends. The properties sought are near North State of Franklin and include an empty lot owned by Mountain States Health Alliance, a small, state-owned lot, and two lots where businesses are now located: 701 Franklin LLC and APC Properties.
“The road will run between the Boys and Girls club and the substation,” Pachol said. “The football field will need to be moved about 15 feet. We’ll also have to move the goal posts and scoreboard. We’ll also have to reposition one baseball field. We’ll regrade that and move the fences.”
These adjustments will be permanent, now that negotiations for land swaps and leases that would have relocated the Boys & Girls Club have diminished.
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.
In September 2012, 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.
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. That, at least, was the plan a few years ago.
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 ground-breaking occurred just this week.
Johnson City’s Parks and Recreation Department has been planning for about two years to decommission Optimist Park, and the city-owned Keefauver farm is being considered for use in this exchange.
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.
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