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Flood plan: City getting set to move

July 6th, 2011 8:34 pm by Gary B. Gray

The City Commission will consider approval tonight of three vital components in its long-term downtown flood remediation plan.
On April 8, commissioners agreed to a recommendation by City Manager Pete Peterson to borrow up to $6 million to get started on the plan. Tonight, commissioners will consider a resolution that authorizes the reimbursement of that amount in stormwater expenditures with a future bond issue.
Peterson’s unveiling about three months ago came after commissioners, architects and city staff had examined and re-examined how to get the biggest bang for their buck knowing they did not have the estimated $30 million to pay for the entire plan. Peterson broke the first phase of the plan into three pieces.
He said at the time that the city’s comfort level was not to exceed $6 million.
“Six million is as hard as we need to push that fund,” he said. “Whatever we decide to do, we don’t exceed that and don’t go over 15 years of paying off debt.”
Peterson made the recommendation after consulting with engineers and Nashville’s and Morgan Keegan, the city’s financial adviser. The vote was unanimous, with the exception of Mayor Jane Myron, who bowed out of the vote.
Commissioners tonight will consider a second resolution which entails condemning 114 W. King Street — identified as the U-Haul property, assisting the business’ relocation and acquiring the property, which is an essential piece of the stormwater puzzle.
“The value was established at $820,000 based on an independent appraisal,” said Public Works Director Phil Pindzola.
This downtown property will be utilized as an area on which to construct a detention pond that would tie into the city’s completed in-house project at McClure Street, where a basin was constructed. The overall plan in this part of town is to catch and distribute overflow from King Creek that has caused flooding for years.
Also included in tonight’s stormwater discussion is the purchase of some of Lewis Wexler’s Free Service Tire property. Peterson’s April recommendation took Wexler’s West Market Street building off the table, leaving the offer at about $615,000. Peterson also suggested the city pay for the Free Service properties on a cash basis from stormwater fee revenues and that the city should have that amount on hand by the end of the year.
Construction plans have been worked up for this area, which will open up Brush Creek beginning at Sevier Street. This (once identified as Founders Park) land already is owned by the city and initial environmental studies and engineering plans have been developed. Peterson estimated construction might begin at this site first, perhaps in November.
These three moves, along with the city’s purchase of the entire block on which the Essex Building now sits, will allow the King Creek culvert running under that area to be opened up to tie into Brush Creek.
Commissioners also will consider approving an allocation not to exceed $350,000 from its Industrial Park/Med-Tech Park fund to meet Washington County’s match of an equal amount to relocate the Johnson City-Washington County Animal Shelter. The proposed 2.26-acre lot is at 103 L.P. Auer Road and contains a 16,000-square-foot building.
Meanwhile, the city is in the process of soliciting proposals for relocation sites for the shelter.
“While we have identified a desirable site, it is in the best interest of taxpayers to investigate the possibility of other more cost-effective locations,” Peterson said.

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