Two new projects suggested by citizen groups dominated the discussion at the East Ridge City Council meeting Thursday night. Because they were not published on the agenda, no decisions could be made, but the council was in agreement that more consideration was merited about the city building a new animal shelter and dog park, and for building a field house for athletics at East Ridge High School.
A large group of volunteers and advocates for animals in the city want a new place to shelter and care for stray animals.
A shelter is estimated to cost between $1.5 and $2 million to build a 5,000-square-foot facility, said City Manager Scott Miller. There are seven possible locations that he has already considered, all within the “border region” area that could use revenue generated from the border region taxes. However, use of this tax money is already planned, and the city manager has recommended that no other projects be started unless it takes the place of another planned development, such as the proposed “town center.” Discussion will continue at the June 14 commission meeting when the building will be on the agenda.
The need for a new field house at East Ridge High School was also brought before the council by a large group of citizens headed by Head Football Coach Tim James. When the stadium was condemned several years ago and razed, the concession stands, dressing rooms and weight rooms were lost too. The alumni association has raised $70,000 and Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd has donated $50,000 toward the building.
The alumni association has already developed site plans and conceptual drawings are complete. A “wall of fame” fundraiser is being implemented, and most of the engineering has been done. The total cost is expected to be around $400,000. The group came to the council asking for help from the city because it is believed that even with some services and materials given free of charge or at steep discounts, it would be 10 years before the alumni association could manage to complete the project on what is now city-owned property. Mayor Brent Lambert said he would be in favor of taking money out of the fund balance to build the field house. The matter will be put on the agenda for the council meeting on June 28.
In response to an ethics complaint filed by Laura Seneker regarding the recent Hamilton County Commission election race between Mayor Lambert and Commissioner Boyd, the council passed a resolution to hire an ethics officer. The city manager was instructed to contact attorneys Sam Elliott, Jerry Summers, Ron Wells and Ryan Hanzelik about the position to determine their fees and if they are interested.
Several resolutions on the agenda were given approval Thursday night. A contract was authorized with TDOT for the city to provide mowing services at the I-75 Exit 1 interchange for 2018-2019 on a reimbursement basis. It was agreed that the amount TDOT pays is low, but the benefit, is that East Ridge can control when the interchange is mowed, said the mayor.
Approval was given to obtain quotes to have the library painted and to publish an invitation to bid for new flooring in the library.
A change order request from C.W. Matthews Contracting Company in an amount not to exceed $57,020 was approved for additional work needed at the I-75 reconfiguration project at Ringgold Road at Exit One.
The council reappointed James Citty to the East Ridge Industrial Development Board.
Memorial Day events in East Ridge were announced. Mayor Lambert said the annual Memorial Day ceremony would take place at 11 a.m. in front of Pioneer Playground. It will be moved inside in the event of rain. Council member Ester Helton said the Optimists Bar B Que will be held from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday at Camp Jordan.