By Jim Young
Members of the Crossville City Council answered questions from the public during an open forum on city of Crossville projects at the Palace Theatre.
The forum was sponsored by the Fair Park Senior Center and those who attended had a chance to write down questions directed to a specific council member or an open question for the whole council. Topics ranged from the downtown project to an indoor recreation facility as well as local jobs and recycling among others.
As expected, there was much discussion about the downtown improvement project, including a question about why a referendum was not held for the citizens to decide the fate of the project. Directed to Councilman George Marlow, he responded that the project was already under discussion before he joined the council. Marlow said the first time he had a chance to vote on the project, he was opposed. He said he was concerned about the trees and the median planned for Main St. but, when those items were removed from the project, he supported it.
Marlow went on to say a referendum might have been something to consider earlier in the process, but now the delay it would cause in the project could mean the loss of a substantial part of the grant funding.
Councilman Danny Wyatt also addressed a referendum, suggesting that such a vote “might be pretty close.” Wyatt added he felt there would be some benefits from the project, but he was not sure those benefits would be worth the pain experienced during the construction.
Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III pointed out the waterline in the downtown area is at least 60 years old and that the infrastructure in the downtown area needs upgraded.
Councilman Pete Souza said that once the downtown project is done, “We can have a lot of small shops and that can attract more businesses back to downtown. The project by itself won't fix downtown, but it will take a combination of efforts by the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and other groups for it to work.”
Graham pointed out that in 1988, Crossville's taxable property assessment was $88 million and, in 2013, had increased to $378 million. In addition, Graham said the sales tax has doubled during that time. Those items have increased the revenue to the city while the property tax rate has been reduced. Graham also talked about population growth. Between 1990 and 2000, the community grew at the rate of 30 percent for that decade and grew another 20 percent in the decade of 2000 to 2010.
“Growth is what our economy is based on. I am pro growth and always will be,” explained Graham.
Other topics discussed included talk about the once-proposed indoor recreation center that included possibly an indoor and outdoor pool, exercise facilities, gyms and other activities. This multimillion-dollar project could be something for a future referendum.
It was also reported that school sidewalks and the project along Fourth St. and Myrtle Ave. remains on the fast track as far as the city is concerned. Because other funding is involved, additional approvals are needed on the project.
Future recycling efforts were also discussed and plans for a single-stream recycling program are under consideration in a pilot project and could become part of the next city budget.
A question concerning what efforts are being made to bring additional jobs to Crossville led Graham to discuss plans for expansion at CoLinx and the recent partnership between the city, the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and TLD trucking to train truck drivers needed by the local operation of that firm. According to Graham, the trucking jobs pay very well and more employees are needed by the firm.