Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 11, 2014

Downtown back on city agenda

By Jim Young
Chronicle correspondent

CROSSVILLE — The Crossville City Council meets tonight and is scheduled to take up possible changes in the downtown work to dramatically scale back the cost and scope of the project. Councilman Pete Souza also wants to discuss his accusations in light of the Grand Jury decision that no wrongdoing took place in the city's purchase of several properties.

The council will meet as the audit committee at 5 p.m. tonight with a public hearing on a proposed greenway grant beginning at 5:30 and the regular meeting agenda starts at 6 p.m.

While some may disagree with the decision announced by Crossville Mayor J.H. Graham III at last week’s council work session, it appears Graham feels there is more benefit to the city from spending taxpayer's money on the Northwest Connector project and other long-term needs of the city rather than the downtown improvement project.

Graham explained he had worked tirelessly for many years, along with city staff and volunteers, on the downtown project and more than $1 million of general fund money has been spent so far. Graham added that the project has approval for some $4 million in grants.

Graham said he had reviewed most of the projects in the new city manager's 10-year capital improvement program and the corresponding requirements for additional city revenue.

“I feel I must change priorities,” explained Graham. “It's about the highest and best use of our resources.”

Graham announced at the work session last week he plans to make a motion to recall the new request for bids on the downtown work that just went out and he would like to see the water line on Main St. re-engineered, taking the project from $10.8 million to about $1.8 million for the water line to help serve the hospital and improve fire protection to the downtown area.

Graham said he would also like the city staff to prepare a plan to bring the Main St. area sidewalks up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards over a period of time. City engineer Tim Begley said the majority of street corners in downtown do not meet ADA currently.

Graham was asked by Souza if he was trading the downtown project for the Northwest Connector, and Graham said he feels the new road will open up better opportunities for growth for industry, business and residential development in the city that would create jobs and additional property tax revenue over the next 20 years. Graham said he also did not want to lose the grants the city has received from TDOT.

Souza has requested an item on tonight's agenda to discuss the grand jury report concerning his accusations of wrongdoing and the District Attorney General and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation investigation that resulted in a finding of no criminal actions of any kind in the purchase of property at the airport, the bank building that is now city hall and the interstate industrial park. According to the agenda, Souza will give a report on the matter.

On the agenda is a request for the council to vote on a budget item for next year's budget to fund the annual Crossville Memorial Airport Fly In. This year will be the airport's 80th birthday. The amount budgeted for the celebration includes support from public works, fire and police totals $18,000.

Also on tonight's agenda is an item for council to approve submission of the recreation grant for greenway development, a presentation of a new section of the city's website that will allow citizens to offer suggestions and offer comments on city projects.