Red Bank Commissioners were unanimous on Tuesday night in voting not to try to save two old school buildings at the current Red Bank Middle School (old high school) campus on Dayton Boulevard.
Mayor Monty Millard, who had unfavorably in the past about reusing the old gym and auditorium, was absent with the flu. Voting no were Vice Mayor John Roberts and Commissioners Ruth Jeno, Floy Pierce and Kenneth Welch.
Most citizens at the meeting spoke against the idea, including former Mayor Joe Glasscock. He said he met his bride at the old campus when he was 14, but he said the city needs to come up with "a destination project" at the site in the center of Red Bank. He said potential developers would not want old school buildings on part of the property.
He said North Chattanooga "is giving Publix the devil" on its plans for a store on North Market Street, and he said Red Bank might be able to steal it away.
Commissioner Jeno, who was at her final meeting after choosing not to seek re-election, called the repair and upkeep of the buildings "a money pit." She said, "We need a clean slate."
Vice Mayor Roberts said much planning needs to go into the best use of the prime property. He said, "We only have one shot at this and we need to get it right."
Commissioner Welch said much citizen input is needed on how to develop the site, which will be swept clean under a contract with the county schools. A new Red Bank Middle School is nearing completion behind the high school.
Commissioner Pierce said, "I would love to keep the buildings, but it would be a burden on the taxpayers."
Jamie McCurdy said the gym was built in 1980 and is still in decent shape. He said it could be used for an outlet for young people.
Several others, including new Commissioner Eddie Pierce, said it would be better to clear the site.
The commission approved settlement of federal lawsuits brought by former Red Bank officers Bradley Hanon and Rebecca Chauncey. The Hanon lawsuit asked $1.5 million in damages, and attorney Arnie Stulce said the Chauncey filing sought $1 million.
He said the cases had been grinding along in Federal Court for two years. He said a municipal insurance pool has helped cover the costs of an attorney who specializes in defending cities.
Attorney Stulce said he and that attorney agree it would be better to settle the cases rather than continue to ring up legal costs and deal with a federal jury.
The Hanon settlement is $36,000, with Red Bank paying $26,500 of that amount. The Chauncey settlement is $21,000, with Red Bank paying $16,500.
Commissioner Jeno cast a no vote on the settlements.
The Hanon lawsuit claimed he was assaulted by Mayor Glasscock and that he was harassed for complaining about alleged improper actions by other officers.
Mayor Glasscock was dismissed as a defendant in May.
The Chauncey suit said she was suspended for letting an officer carry an assault rifle in the trunk of his car “without prior permission” from the police chief, though other higher-ups in the department had done the same thing.