In the first quarter of the fiscal year, income has come in as expected, City Manager Ted Rogers said at the meeting of the Collegedale Commission Monday night. The budget was planned on a reduced amount of income from Tennessee state sales tax based on the previous year. As of now, the city has received just one or two percent above that budgeted amount.
The excess collected is currently being moved into an account for capital improvements in preparation for various projects that will be funded with grants for which Collegedale will have a 20 percent responsibility of the total cost.
One big upcoming undertaking will be replacement of the 20-year-old playground, Imagination Station. This work is expected to cost between $400,000 and $500,000. It is one of the most used parks that the city has, according to Mr. Rogers.
Mayor John Turner asked Public Works Director Rodney Keeton if the playground would be upgraded and enlarged, or just replaced. He was told that the current plans are to keep the walks, fencing and amphitheater, but to replace the large structures in the center with equipment that is made with powder-coated metal and plastic such as that made by Playcore. The sand base will also be changed to rubberized matting that is wheelchair accessible. The size, however is limited by the amount of property and so will continue to accommodate the same number of children at any one time, which is around 50.
Vice Mayor Tim Johnson told the commissioners that he thought the city should have a strategy for this project, which would include the community in planning and implementation. He also suggested the possibility of having large businesses that have many employees living in Collegedale to partner with the city to help fund the playground.
In the past, the city approved a ban on smoking in public parks and playgrounds, yet people continue to smoke in some of these areas, officials said. The only city-owned park where it is allowed is on the greenway. Mr. Keeton told the commissioners that “no smoking” was included on the rules and regulations signs posted at the parks. The city manager said that possibly those signs could be enhanced with pictures of a slash over a cigarette.
Mr. Johnson also asked for the public works department to notify a resident that it is the landowner’s responsibility to dispose of asphalt pieces that were removed from a driveway and thrown in the woods beside the road. Sam Elliott, city attorney, said it could be categorized as construction material that needed to be cleaned up.
The subject of annexation was raised by the vice mayor. Currently, annexation of residential property is prohibited until the state legislature develops a new policy. Mr. Johnson was told that as of now, annexation of commercial property can happen if the land is contiguous with the city limits. “Balloon annexation” can also be used, which is when a corridor extends from the city limits through land that is not part of Collegedale to touch the property to be annexed.
Alice Tym, member of the Collegedale Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, came to the meeting to thank the commissioners and public works department for building the four new pickleball courts. She praised “every little detail” and said that on behalf of the USA Pickleball association members, she was expressing how happy and grateful they are for the courts. The first game was Sunday and Collegedale beat Knoxville.