Cleveland City Council Votes 3-2 To Move Forward On Replacing Cleveland High Gym; City Manager Warns Action Could "Shut The City Down"

Monday, March 10, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

The Cleveland City Council on Monday voted to fund the demolition of the old Cleveland High School gym and to start funding the construction of the new gym out of the City Council's reserve balance rather than try to raise taxes. Several members said they could borrow money later in the process if it becomes necessary.

The situation involving the structurally degrading Cleveland High School gymnasium was declared an emergency by the City Council and the Cleveland Board of Education during the Monday afternoon City Council meeting.

Dr. Martin Ringstaff presented an estimate of costs to demolish the old dome building and to move the utilities. He said in total, the project would range from approximately $250,000 to $280,000. The estimate for building the new facility is $12 million.

However, not everyone agreed that using the reserve balance was the best solution. City Manager Janice Casteel told the Council, "If you spend $12 million out of your reserve fund, you are going to shut the city down." She said the reserve fund consisted of $12.3 million.

Mrs. Casteel continued, "If you want a gym, you have to pay for it. If you take it from your reserves, you won't be able to fund your ongoing projects. We have never budgeted to dip into our fund balance."

She pointed out that the School Board had previously said it could not dip into its own fund balance.

Councilman David May agreed, saying it would not only "break the city," but also "make the bond rating go flat."

Councilman George Poe Jr. said, "I think this is an emergency situation. We have a facility that's unstable. I feel like we should use emergency money and put it back later."

Councilman Richard Banks said he knew it would be difficult, but the city would not have to pay it all at once. He also said the council would never have the votes for a tax increase or vehicle registration fee.

Mayor Tom Rowland pointed out that because of the building's deteriorating condition, it could also become an issue of liability if it fell before the city had it demolished.

It came down to a vote after Councilman Banks made a motion. Councilmen May and McKenzie voted no.

Several Cleveland High School parents also spoke before the vote. One mother said, "I'm a parent, I'm a taxpayer, and a professional volunteer. I spend a lot of time at Cleveland High." She told the Council that the dome was where the Raider family gathered.

She said, "It's where expectations of what it means to be a Cleveland Raider are imparted."

She continued, "This is what's not happening right now because we don't have a venue to do that. We don't have a venue for assemblies. I'm a fiscal conservative, I understand your constraints, but the need is great."

Another mother and former Cleveland High student said her children are also now at CHS. She said her oldest daughter was a basketball player who had colleges interested in her. However, because of the dome not being replaced, she had spent her entire senior season playing at other locations. She also said it made it difficult for scouts to come watch her play.

She told the council she could not pay for her children to go to college but that they were working on receiving athletic scholarships as she had done.

A Cleveland High father emphasized that sports were also an important part of the community because they mold character. He said his daughter, also a basketball player, had dreamed of playing for Cleveland for a long time.       

Councilman Dale R. Hughes said, "I agree that it is an emergency. We have a situation that has impaired or diminished both the programs at the middle school as well as at the high school." He said having the the middle and high school share the middle school gym was creating lots of scheduling conflicts.

Councilman Banks said it was creating a "negative impact on our whole city."

During the meeting, an upgrade to certain city traffic lights on State Highway 60, particularly on 25th Street and Georgetown Road, was also discussed.

Allan Childress gave the presentation, saying so far the upgrades had been a success. He said economic benefits in terms of delay reduction, emissions, and fuel reduction would total around $1,091,225 annually.

A public hearing was also held for the creation of an Interstate Gateway Corridor Overlay Zoning District, which is designed to eventually be adopted for corridors around exits 20, 25, and 27.

 


 

 



East Ridge High School Student Investigated For Questionable Instagram Post

East Ridge Police were contacted by multiple students and parents of East Ridge High School on Saturday, about a fellow student’s Instagram post they perceived as threatening in nature.  Contact was made with the student at his residence.  The student advised his post was in no way meant to be threatening, and was meant to show support for the Second Amendment ... (click for more)

Police Searching For Missing Girl, 11

The Chattanooga Police Department's Missing Persons Unit is asking for the public's assistance in locating 11-year-old Akira Sariah Green. Akira was last seen in East Chattanooga at 6 a.m. on Friday. She was last seen wearing khaki pants, black shirt and black jacket. Akira is a black female with black hair and brown eyes, 5'04" tall, and weighs 145 pounds.  ... (click for more)

Six Things We Can Do About Mass Shootings - And Response

All politics aside, the recent shooting in Florida, and every other shooting in a public place, is a senseless and, possibly, preventable tragedy. It is absurd that we can’t gather in a free society without the fear of some nut job or terrorist using us as targets.   And then the cries of “do something!” from every quarter. But, other than the obvious attempt by agenda-pushers ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s Time To ‘Prepare’

On Friday morning, this after a crazed human being killed 17 innocent children and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday, I sat in a room with Sheriff Jim Hammond and members of his command staff and asked what everyone us want to know: “What do we do?” Gino Bennett, the sage guiding force, sat beside me and he told the room, “The time to ‘prevent’ is over ... (click for more)

Cleveland Wins AAA State Mat Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Chattanooga-area wrestling teams didn’t dominate the TSSAA traditional state tournament this weekend like they have in the past, but they were better than average and still had a lot to celebrate. All three teams that won titles in the State Duals here at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park came back to win again this time, including Cleveland ... (click for more)

District 5-3A: Blue Raiders, Mustangs Advance To Boys' Final

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – For the most part, seedings for postseason high school basketball tournaments hold up well. There are upsets, at times. Some mild. Some more stunning. On “Semifinal Saturday” in District 5-3A at Walker Valley High School, three favorites won, including both higher seeded girls’ teams. Second-ranked Bradley Central, unbeaten at 27-0 and the No. ... (click for more)