By Jim Young
The Crossville City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday to rebid the downtown improvement project after the Tennessee Department of Transportation failed to approve the single bid received on the $11 million project, giving one more shot for the long-planned improvements for the original business district of the city.
According to City Manager David Rutherford, TDOT has ruled the bid as “non-responsive” because part of the bid was submitted using an incorrect form. Rutherford told the council he needed direction from the council as to what the staff should undertake as the next step.
Councilman Pete Souza asked for the floor, saying, “We passed this. It’s controversial, to say the least, and I respect those who voted against it. As far as I’m concerned, it is moving forward.”
Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III moved to rebid the project, with Souza making the second.
Councilman Jesse Kerley asked how much additional cost there would be to rebid the work. Graham said, with the advertising and other costs, it would be about $2,000 and no budget amendment will be necessary for the rebid expense.
Kerley said he had received calls and talked to people for years about the project. He said those he talked to were about 80 percent opposed. Kerley said he was impressed by the number of people who attended the meeting on recreation recently and supported the indoor recreation center. He added he was not opposed to fixing water lines but felt the beautification part of the project only benefited business and property owners downtown.
Graham pointed out that a big part of the project is a storm water system and currently many of the downspouts from the downtown buildings go into the sanitary sewer system, creating a serious inflow problem that affects the operation of the wastewater treatment plant.
Councilman Danny Wyatt raised a concern that had not previously been discussed, the possibility that there are old fuel storage tanks along Main St. from the days when there were gas stations. When those stations closed, generally those tanks were left in the ground and some reportedly could even be within the state right of way.
Wyatt said his concern was that should contaminated soil be encountered, the property owner would be responsible for the clean up under federal law. Clean up estimates could run up to $500,000 based on discussion at the meeting.
The motion passed with Councilman George Marlow, Souza and Graham voting in favor and Wyatt and Kerley opposed.
The council put off action on a proposed employee wellness program that is designed to encourage city employees to exercise, stop smoking, lose weight and become healthier. The program is set up on a schedule of earning points for certain activities from an annual physical to exercise and educational programs. Employees can earn cash rewards for certain point levels and activities. In addition, for exercise/movement activities at designated facilities, they can earn “wellness time” off in exchange for their exercise commitments.
The city will split the cost of membership in a gym with the employees who choose to do so. The city expects the program to cost the city up to $50,000, depending on the number of employees who participate. In addition, the city will receive a reduction in their health insurance premium that will offset some of that cost.
During discussion of the agenda item, Kerley felt the decision should be put off to have more time to consider the ramifications and costs of the program. Souza said he will support the program but did not feel a decision needed to be made immediately.
Martin Elementary fifth grader Buttons Cole was recognized as the student of the month for the character trait of respect and presented with a plaque commemorating her accomplishment.