Elizabethton City Council

Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains discusses Surf Betsy plans with City Council on Thursday night.

ELIZABETHTON — The Elizabethton City Council took a step forward Thursday in plans to develop the city’s rivers for recreation.

By a unanimous vote, the council agreed to hire the Colorado firm of River Restorations to move forward with studies on the future recreational development of the city’s two rivers and whether the focus should be on the Watauga, the Doe, or a combination of the two rivers.

The council has designated $38,082.88 for the contract with River Restorations. The company is to investigate whether a white-water park could be constructed and successful in Elizabethton. The firm will also determine what engineering services are needed and whether the two rivers would be suitable for kayaking, rafting or tubing.

In addition to design work on a white-water facility, the firm’s services are also envisioned to include coordination with state and federal agencies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, Army Corps of Engineers, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and others.

One aspect that council members noted was that while River Restorations is a Colorado company, it has a team that not only includes local experts, but local engineers who are familiar with the area. That local relationship is through the engineering firm of Mattern and Craig, which is a primary subcontractor for River Restorations. The city has long experience with the work of Mattern and Craig.

In other matters, the council gave permission to Finance Director Preston Cobb to open a bank account and Local Government Investment Pool account to store funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act. Cobb said no funds have currently come to the city but it is anticipated the amount could reach between $3.6 million and $4 million. The objective of the funding is to provide aid for the COVID-19 efforts to decrease the spread of the virus, replace revenue loss for public services, support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses, and address investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.

Cobb and City Manager Daniel Estes are working to establish internal controls and the funds will be accounted for separately from ordinary city funds.

Finally, the council also approved the annual disbursement of funds to nonprofit agencies selected by the city. These include $45,000 for the Elizabethton Senior Citizens Center, $30,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Elizabethton/Carter County, $12,000 to the Shepherd’s Inn domestic violence shelter, $10,000 for Kids Like Us, $5,000 for Keep Carter County Beautiful, $5,000 for the Children’s Advocacy Center, $3,000 for the Assistance Resource Ministry, $2,500 for the Friends of Sycamore Shoals, $2,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank, and $1,500 for Dawn of Hope.

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John Thompson covers Carter and Johnson counties for the Johnson City Press since 1998. He grew up in Washington County and graduated from University High and East Tennessee State University

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