Collegedale Greenway May Eventually Lead Downtown

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - by Gail Perry

A meeting to discuss longterm land use in Collegedale was announced at the commission meeting Monday night by Strategic Planner Kelly Martin. Collegedale officials will have a meeting with representatives from Chattanooga Tuesday at 6 p.m. at city hall. One topic of discussion will be connecting the greenway in Collegedale to Enterprise South and eventually to the Chattanooga Riverwalk and downtown.

Connectivity within the entire city is presently under consideration, Mr. Martin said. A request for the city to build a sidewalk from the Wellesley subdivision in order to join the greenway that is already in place should be part of that master plan, he stated. 

Director of Public Works Rodney Keeton said there has not yet been a study to determine where sidewalks are needed or how to prioritize them. There are many subdivisions that do not have sidewalks, said Mr. Keeton.

Commissioner Larry Hanson said the residents of Wellesley in conjunction with two other adjacent subdivisions have taken the initiative to make a request for the walkway and should be put into another category. Last week, he arranged a meeting with TDOT, three city employees and representatives from the neighborhood to discuss the development of that sidewalk. Collegedale was advised that grant money may be available, but before applying for a grant, the city must first apply to TDOT to use the right-of-way, which is the only option available for locating the sidewalk. If built on a TDOT right-of-way, a sidewalk must meet state specifications, which means lighting it, commented Mr. Keeton.

He also told the commissioners that it might take up to a year to receive approval. “Government wheels turn slowly,” said Ted Rogers, city manager. Collegedale must first get its plans drawn up and sent to TDOT for review. Then they will be sent to Nashville before Collegedale will get an answer. The commissioners voted to begin the application process to TDOT.

The Board of Commissioners also approved the property tax rate that was set by the assessor's office. Every four years Hamilton County does a property reassessment. Tennessee state law requires that a city adjust its property tax rate based on those assessments so that it is “revenue neutral.” If property values go down after being re-evaluated, the tax rate will go up so that the money from property taxes that are received by the municipality remains the same. The new tax rate for Collegedale is 1.37 per $100 of assessed value, up from the previous rate of 1.34.

Vice Mayor Tim Johnson questioned City Attorney Sam Elliott about some information that was sent to the city from David Fowler, head of Family Action Council of Tennessee, concerning insuring same sex couples that are unmarried. Several commissioners expressed concern that Mr. Fowler would bring the city into a lawsuit. Attorney Elliott advised the commissioners that he was emailing them a proposal and making recommendations about the issues raised by Mr. Fowler. The matter will be discussed at the Sept. 5 commission meeting.

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