East Ridge Has $4.9 Million Bond Issue For Exit 1 Improvements; Council Considers Beer, Wine Sales At Camp Jordan

Friday, October 27, 2017 - by Gail Perry
Bob Nevil with East Ridge Council members
Bob Nevil with East Ridge Council members
- photo by Gail Perry

East Ridge City Manager Scott Miller executed a $4.9 million bond issue this week to pay for the Exit 1 Ringgold Road/I-75 reconfiguration on the east side of the Interstate. At the city council meeting Thursday night, he reported details of the loan to the council. The 20-year loan has an interest rate of 2.55 percent, with the issuance fee of $29,400. The city will pay annually with money it receives from the border region funds. The total cost of the project is $6.

9 million with $1.5 coming from TDOT and $500,000 from Hamilton County.


This work included $291,319 for sewer repairs on lines that ran under the roads and Interstate. The cost included a change order of $23,881in engineering costs that was approved by the council Thursday night for unforeseen problems with the old buried pipes.  


Camp Jordan, the 275-acre park at I-75 Exit 1 that is owned by East Ridge, is a sports complex and includes an arena. Much of the activity taking place in the city is possible because of the large park. Councilman Jacky Cagle said it has been mistakenly believed that the land was given to East Ridge. In reality, he said, in 1977 it was sold to the city for $157,500. At the time, the city had to come up with grants to help pay for it.


The Camp Jordan Arena is used for sporting and special events. On Sept.30- Oct. 1, the building was turned into a hospital for use by Remote Area Medical (RAM). Bob Nevil, chairman of RAM, came to the meeting to personally thank the council for giving the organization the use of the building and to present each member with a plaque of gratitude and a T-shirt. Mr. Nevil said that 820 people were given free medical, dental and vision care this year. The clinic provided $429,530 in medical benefits to those patients.  


A discussion took place about allowing beer sales on public property in East Ridge, specifically at Camp Jordan. Councilwoman Ester Helton would like to allow beer and wine sales at the arena, saying the venue might lose some big events because it is currently not allowed. Councilman Cagle cited a long list of ordinances that prohibit liquor sales in the park. He also read agreements made when the city was applying for grants to build the park in 1977 which excluded alcohol. Councilman Brian Williams said the council needs to look at both sides.


Beer Board member Greg Shipley said that the board would like to change the ordinance to allow beer sales at Camp Jordan Arena when no other sporting event is being held. He said special permits could be required and that the city could make money by charging more for events that sell beer. He also proposed having a special roped-off area for drinking beer. City Attorney Mark Litchford said he will get more information about alcohol sales in time for the Nov. 9 meeting for a more educated discussion.


Carl Frost, who retired and moved to East Ridge 14 months, ago addressed the council with his concerns about the appearance of Ringgold Road. He said he hesitates to take any visitors that he has down that road because it looks like a war zone with 30-40 percent of the buildings empty. He asked if the city was actively doing anything to help. “It looks like hell now,” he said.


We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress, said the mayor, but it might not be apparent to a newcomer, and added, “You probably can’t appreciate how far we’ve come.” Mayor Lambert told Mr. Frost that tax revenue has increased 20 percent for each of the last two years. Sidewalks and streetscaping is being done on a long stretch of Ringgold Road that will improve its appearance. City Manager Miller told about the city’s facade program that will match up to $10,000 in improvements for businesses along the road. He also said that seven potential businesses are considering building on empty parcels. “We can encourage change, but we can’t force developers,” said Councilman Williams. "Good things are happening. Let’s be happy about it," said Councilwoman Helton.


The state laws have changed the way libraries that are owned by municipalities operate.  Thursday night the council approved changes to the East Ridge library board in order to be consistent with state law. The board will now have seven members instead of five and will create the by-laws and regulations and will manage all affairs of the library, including hiring and firing.  Among other changes, the librarian will now become a library administrator and the board will be responsible for creating and adhering to the library’s budget.


A vote was unanimous for extending an agreement with Republic Services until August 2021 for disposing of the city’s solid waste. There will be a four percent rate increase up to $32.76 per ton beginning Nov. 1.


On second and final reading, the East Ridge air pollution control regulations ordinance was amended that will increase permit fees and revise ambient air quality standards. Every municipality in Hamilton County was required to adopt the changes. Property at 4209 Ringgold Road was rezoned from R-1 to C-2 Commercial District.


The council authorized applying for the Maddie’s Fund Innovation Grant for $5,000. It is a 100 percent grant requiring no match. If received, the money will be used to provide 25 adoption packages for people who adopt dogs from the East Ridge shelter.



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