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.

 


 

 



County Issuing Up To $235 Million In Bonds - Mainly For School Projects

Hamilton County plans to issue up to $235 million in general obligation bonds with the funds mainly to go to county school projects. The County Commission earlier approved a property tax increase to support the bond issue. Finance Director Al Kiser said there will be a 20-day waiting period in which taxpayers can protest the issuance. He said the county will prepare an ... (click for more)

Grand Jury No Bills And True Bills

Here are the No Bills and True Bills from the Hamilton County Grand Jury for Aug. 20. No Bills: BROOKS, EMILY LEANNE W 26 F 0 1 GS 1675804 POSSESSION OF FIREARM WITH INTENT TO GO ARMED COFFMAN, CRYSTAL GAIL W 45 F 0 1 SD 59104 THEFT OF PROPERTY COFFMAN, CRYSTAL GAIL W 45 F 0 2 SD 59105 THEFT OF PROPERTY DAVIS, DEJUAN DEWAYNE B 25 M 0 1 GS 1682670 POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED ... (click for more)

Vince Dean Saved The Day

Permit me to publicly express appreciation to Vince Dean. His calm, comprehensive and diplomatic arguments to the Chattanooga City Council against the administration’s ill-advised plan to segregate retirees and herd them unwillingly into a separate insurance plan unquestionably saved the day. The proposed new plan, if implemented, was certain to cause months of chaos and confusion ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Let’s Focus On ‘Better’

As I stepped away from the overflow crowd at  Monday  night’s Town Council meeting on Signal Mountain, I leaned in to tell Jean Trohanis how sorry I was to hear of the loss of her dearest friend. But in that millisecond before I could speak, the former but still-loved elementary school principal gave me her best hallway hiss and, with a pointed finger, she ordered, “You ... (click for more)

Hayes Surpasses 1,000 Points As Lady Canes Beat Walker Valley 54-43

East Hamilton sophomore Madison Hayes scored 17 points in a 54-43 victory at Walker County in Cleveland on Tuesday night and pushed her career scoring past the 1,000-point mark in the process. Hayes scored a team-high 19 points Friday in a 52-40 victory over Notre Dame in the East-West Classic, giving her 996 points in her career, including eighth-grade and freshman seasons ... (click for more)

McMinn County Slaps Soddy-Daisy With Two 5-3A Losses

McMinn County roared into Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday night and blasted the Trojans and Lady Trojans lop-sided victories in District 5-3A high school basketball action. The Cherokees (3-5, 3-0) blitzed the Trojans (3-5, 1-2) early to build a 26-14 halftime lead, built a 20-point lead and cruised to an impressive 58-30 victory. The earlier game was even more one-sided as the ... (click for more)