The Crossville City Council is looking at ways to increase parking availability in downtown Crossville.
At a council retreat held Nov. 19, City Engineer Don Cole presented options that, all together, could add as many as 254 parking spaces. Construction costs were estimated at upwards of $280,000, with additional costs for buying property.
The estimated costs were determined with using city bid prices and city labor.
“We thought that would be a good starting point,” he said.
In prior conversations, the council noted additional parking can provide more access to downtown businesses and increase participation in events at the Palace Theatre, the Depot and The Amp.
Cole reviewed the distance of each parking lot option to points of interest downtown, like the Palace Theatre or the sidewalk on Main St.
The first options were behind and to the side of Express Lunch, adding up to 82 parking spaces behind the business and on the property at the corner of Lantana Rd. and Main St. Construction costs ranged from $67,000 to $80,000.
Two parking areas at Thurman Ave. and E. First St. could add up to 68 parking spaces. One parcel had recently been the site of a used car lot. Construction costs were estimated at $1,000 for one lot or $33,000 for both parcels.
An existing gravel lot behind the Cumberland County Courthouse could be paved and striped for about $50,000. It would provide 33 parking spaces.
A parking lot at the corner of Fifth St. and Rector Ave. behind Mitchell’s Drugs could add 27 parking spaces with estimated construction costs of about $26,000.
The final option presented was construction of a new lot on one or two parcels on Thurman Ave., adding from 32 to 68 new parking spaces. Construction costs ranged from $52,000 to $93,000.
Councilman Art Gernt said, “All of these are needed.”
Councilman Rob Harrison asked if the old Handle Mill property on Webb Ave. had been considered.
Cole said it had not been evaluated in the report. A survey this past year showed most people were not willing to walk a long distance. The property is next to the library, but would be a long distance for anyone going to events at the Palace or Depot.
Cole had estimated property purchase costs at about 125% of the current property tax appraisal.
“That might be low on some of those,” he said.
Councilman Scot Shanks asked if it would be possible to lease property for parking lots.
Mayor James Mayberry said he had talked with at least one property owner, who he said was receptive to the idea of the city paving and maintaining parking areas and leasing the lots.
“But when you talk about selling, that’s a whole different ballgame,” Mayberry said.
Dr. Kendall Morrison had contacted the city about leasing her existing parking lots on Thurman Ave. Under that plan, those spaces would be available to the public after 5 p.m. on weekdays and during weekends.
Morrison had requested being included on the city’s liability insurance, but the insurance carrier said that would not be an option if the city was not responsible for maintenance and upkeep.
The council will discuss options for moving forward with increasing parking during its Dec. 1 work session, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at Crossville City Hall, 392 N. Main St.
Cole also updated the council on a proposed crosswalk at Martin Elementary to the ball fields and parking across Miller Ave.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation updated its requirements for mid-block crossings in April to require a beacon and signs to alert traffic of the pedestrian crossing and additional lighting.
“Any time you have a pedestrian crossing, you want to make sure you have plenty of light,” Cole said.
A hybrid beacon remains dark until a pedestrian activates the signal by hitting the crossing button. Then, the beacon begins flashing yellow, turning to solid yellow to warn motorists to stop. When the light shows two red lights, the pedestrian can begin crossing the street. The beacon then begins flashing red lights, notifying motorists to stop and then proceed if no pedestrian is in the crosswalk. It then returns to dark.
Estimated cost for the project is $80,000, which is less than a standard traffic signal, Cole said. There will be some cost to make improvements to the sidewalk for ADA accessibility and provide a pedestrian pad and short sidewalk on the other side of the road.
Shanks had asked the city to look at a crosswalk at the location last year.
“It’s just so dangerous,” he said at the work session. “And there are a lot of people crossing.”
The project requires approval from TDOT before any work could begin, unlikely to happen in the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The city would have to provide all the funding for the project.