County approves funds for Johnson City's Legacy Plaza

Robert Houk • Aug 27, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Washington County commissioners voted Monday to approve $220,000 in funds from the tax increment financing district for the Legacy Plaza Sesquicentennial Project at King Commons in downtown Johnson City.

The funding was approved by a 12-3 vote, with Commissioners Kent Harris, Danny Edens and Robbie Tester voting “no.”

Work on Legacy Plaza, at 112 N. Commerce St., is expected to be completed in late November. 

The Sesquicentennial Commission is conducting a fundraising campaign to help pay for the Legacy Plaza. Funds raised by the committee will be added to the $1.3 million that Johnson City commissioners have already earmarked for the project.

The history circle area of Legacy Plaza includes four concentric rings featuring 31 engraved blocks that list key dates and information about Johnson City’s history. A commissioned art piece selected by Johnson City’s Public Art Committee will be installed at the center of the rings.

The nearby “Tri-Star” area pays tribute to the Tennessee flag, which was designed by Johnson City resident Col. LeRoy Reeves.

A sesquicentennial time capsule will be buried at Legacy Plaza on Dec. 1 to commemorate the end of the sesquicentennial celebration.

Commissioners also voted 11-4 (with Commissioners Steven Light, Harris, Edens and Tester voting “no”) Monday to approve $195,915 in TIF funds for MMM Enterprises to renovate a building at 142 W. Walnut St., Johnson City.

The 2,500-square-foot building, which was formerly Overmountain Sports, will be redeveloped to house the Watauga Brewery on the first floor, a restaurant on the second floor and rooftop event space.

The commission also approved a request to spend as much as $225,000 to replace a cooling tower at Jonesborough Elementary School, with $49,000 coming from the county’s capital improvement fund.

Commissioners also voted to allocate for $69,000 to replace the heating/cooling controls at Jonesborough Elementary School.

Phillip Patrick, the school system’s maintenance supervisor, has told commissioners earlier this month that both items are immediate needs regardless of what happens with a new K-8 school.

Commissioners also heard from Bill Flanary, the county’s director of schools, who said enrollment for the school system is up by 99 students this academic year.

Flanary said he is the first director of schools in nearly a decade to be able to report that.

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