Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 28, 2013

What's included in the downtown project?

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — If the Crossville City Council chooses to put the future of the downtown improvement project to a ballot question, it will lose more than $2 million in grant funds, according to a memo by city of Crossville staff.

Councilman Danny Wyatt had questioned what would happen to available funding if the city delayed starting the project until a vote of city residents and property owners could be taken.

"This is a big project," Wyatt said at the Oct. 10 special-called meeting of the city council. "The thing I've thought about lately is we took a project to referendum that was a drop in the bucket compared to this. And they passed it.

"My position on this, now that we're down and we've drug and we've extended and extended and we can't get our wheels turning, I feel like the best approach would be to let the people that's going to pay for this decide if they want to do it."

About $4.2 million in grant funding has been identified to help offset the projected $10.2 million cost of the project, including $1 million from Economic Development Administration; $1.06 million from the Transportation Enhancement Program; $567,000 state revolving fund; $317,380 from the Appalachian Regional Commission; $584,000 in TDOT Surface Transportation Program funds; $210,000 in TDOT paving funds; and $500,000 to be raised by DCI. These funds are restricted to the downtown project and cannot be used for another purpose.

The EDA funds have a deadline of Dec. 14, 2013, to begin construction, which cannot be extended. The Transportation Enhancement Program funds have a deadline of Dec. 31, 2013, for construction to begin. ARC funds require construction to begin by February.

The city has already spent about $985,000 in engineering, grant administration, legal fees and more. That figure includes $14,000 from DCI for engineering and surveying. That leaves about $5.3 million that would be paid for with loans from State Revolving Loan Funds, $1.3 million, and Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund, not to exceed $4 million.

In a memo prepared by staff of the city of Crossville, the following major components of the project were outlined.

•Water lines — The current eight-inch cast iron lines were installed in the 1920s. The project would connect new lines to the 10-inch water line at Water Tank Hill and provide secondary water supply to Cumberland Medical Center. That would provide redundancy in the water supply to the hospital should there be a problem with the waterline on West Ave.

•Storm sewer — There is currently no storm drainage system in the downtown area. When many of the buildings in downtown were constructed, it was a common practice to connect roof drains to sewer lines. The project would install storm drainage in the area and connect those roof systems to the new system. This would also reduce the infiltration of storm water into the city's sewer system. Downspouts would also be connected to elminate overflow on to sidewalks.

The new system would have about 40 catch basins and underdrains to intercept underground water to alleviate freeze/thaw effects. This should address complaints of flooding at Cumberland County Bank, Highland Federal, Mayberry's Home Furnishings and other buildings and businesses in the area.

•Fire protection — New City Manager David Rutherford requested hydrant water flow data to determine if it was adequate for fire protection. The report, using 2012 water flow data, found water flow to the fire hydrants was insufficient, according to Insurance Services Organization standards, to provide necessary fire protection to a number of downtown buildings and landmarks, including the Palace Theatre, which would need a flow of 1,500 gallons per minute, but the hydrant at Main St. and 2nd St. provides only 980 gallons per minute.

The project would replace the existing 8-inch water line with a 12-inch water line, which is expected to improve water flow and maintain residual water pressure in the system.

•Lighting upgrade — Currently, the city leases street lights in the downtown area from Volunteer Energy Cooperative, at an annual cost of $9,012. With the improvement project, the city would own the lights. Those lights would also be equipped with LED light fixtures, improving energy efficiency and providing brighter light. The estimated payback is about nine years.

The project will also replace traffic signal lights with new LED traffic signals mounted on mast arms with internally illuminated street name signs and pedestrian signals.

•Sidewalks and beautification — Current sidewalks and curbs do not meet federal standards for accessibility for people with disabilities. The project will bring those up to current standards. It is noted the city currently has a claim filed on behalf of two citizens who fell on the sidewalk by Mayberry's Home Furnishings as a result of accessibility issues.

The project does not include funding for benches or trash receptacles. Those have been removed from the bid portion of the project and will be purchased directly from funds raised by Downtown Crossville, Inc. Also removed are medians that had been proposed in front of the courthouse and fountains at the courthouse entrance.

The council had completed much of the paperwork needed to big the project, but did not act on contracts with utility companies for placing service lines underground in the downtown area. Those are expected to be on a future agenda of the city council.