The majority of the Crossville city council agreed to downsize work on the downtown sidewalks project one more time moving to a plan that will repair much of the area and replace about 30 to 35 percent.
The outcome might have been different if all the council members had been present. The called meeting was set earlier in the week and councilman Pete Souza had informed the other council members that he was not available for a called meeting during the week. The meeting was held anyway.
The matter was put on the agenda by councilman Danny Wyatt and the council had been waiting for a report on the costs of some alternatives to hiring a contractor to come in and replace all the sidewalks over a time frame of about 6 months.
Said Wyatt, “This has been talked about a long time and I feel like it is time to make a decision and stick with it.” Wyatt said he really didn't care what the decision was and he didn't have much fight left in him, but he didn't see spending millions of dollars when it can be repaired for $450,000.
Wyatt moved that the sidewalks be repaired where needed and hire an engineering firm to tell the city what is needed to bring the sidewalks up to ADA standards. The motion would also add a two man crew to the city staff and implement a 10 year sidewalk plan when Main Street is finished. Wyatt added that the city should turn Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) loose to pave Main Street right away. Councilman Jesse Kerley supported Wyatt's motion.
Council member Pamala Harris spoke saying that she had spent the last week walking Main Street, looking at the sidewalks and talking to people as well. Ms. Harris said she had talked to 19 people and 4 were in favor of the full project to replace all the sidewalks, 4 were non-committal and 11 were in favor of the repair process proposed by Mr. Wyatt.
Mayor James Mayberry said the project had been under consideration for many years and millions had been spent on the project plus $3.5 million in grants and funding that was returned. Mr. Mayberry reminded the council that economic development consultants had said how important a vibrant downtown is to a community. “I think this patching up is totally different then what the plan is,” said Mayberry.
A question on how to proceed with the motion was asked to the city attorney Will Ridley. The last motion on the project was made in May of 2015 to move forward with the full project using contractors and install new light poles with the current metal downtown poles to be used at Centennial Park. The following month a contract was approved with engineers to designe the project for bidding at a cost of some $100,000.
Ridely said, “This motion would be essentially amending that one and so it would need a three fourths vote of the members present so with this council today it would take three votes.”
Had all five council members been present the vote would have required 4 votes to pass.
Mr. Wyatt had some questions for city engineer Tim Begley about the alternative plan to repair the sidewalk corners to ADA compliance and replace sidewalks that need replaced. Mr Begley said that he estimated that some 35 percent of the sidewalks would need to be replaced but he stressed that that was only an estimate. Begley added that the time line for the repair project would be between 6 and 12 months. Because the changes proposed will require TDOT approval and Begley estimated it could be up to a year before the city could start on such a project.
Crossville city engineer Tim Begley
One complication is the intersection of Main Street at Lantana Road because of problems with the placement of the poles holding the street lights. According to Begley, the staff has been waiting for direction from the council on how to deal with the situation. The funds could be pulled from planned work on the West Avenue and Fourth Street intersection work or left out of the plans. It was also mentioned that the city needed to provide a decision to TDOT on the intersection by the end of September. Mr. Wyatt called that intersection one of the worst and it would be difficult to convert to ADA accessible corners.
The repair project as proposed would not include replacement of street light poles and according to Begley's memo, the repair project would only make the corners ADA and it would not make entrances to some of the businesses ADA accessible and he added during the discussion that some of the sidewalks were so slanted left to right that they were not ADA acceptable. In addition, there are trip hazards where the sections are not quite the same height. Begley wrote in his memo that the incomplete work to upgrade to full ADA compliance could cause problems for the city down the road.
Ms. Harris commented that several people had mentioned to her the need to repaint crosswalks and curbs since those had been left alone while waiting for the project to get underway.
Mayor James Mayberry said he was in favor of biting the bullet and doing the sidewalk project as previously agreed to.
Ms. Harris asked of the project was equivalent to about a 4 cent tax increase to pay for the more expensive work? Mr. Mayberry responded, “Actually you've got money in the bank. You could just cut a check and pay for it.” Mayberry said the city had $7.5 million in the rainy day fund and another $4.5 million in other funds adding the city could get pretty good interest rates to borrow the funds.
Clarification of the motion included the hiring of two full time employees at a cost of $90,000 a year, two part time employees at $35,000 a year along with necessary equipment and a truck at a cost of some $80,000 and $40,000 for concrete and rock.
The vote included yes votes from council members Wyatt, Harris and Kerley. Mayor Mayberry voted no and the motion was approved.
Link to sidewalk damage photos.
Link to sidewalk damage photos.
City council full discussion on changing downtown sidewalk project.