East Ridge Having Trouble Building Fieldhouse At East Ridge High

Thursday, August 9, 2018

East Ridge Council members are still struggling for a way to get a fieldhouse built at East Ridge High School.

The school's football stadium was torn down in 2015 after it was declared structurally unsound.

The stadium was rebuilt, but the Alumni Association has been seeking to add a fieldhouse that includes restrooms and concessions.

The group raised $75,000, and the County Commission approved $50,000 to go toward restrooms.

City Manager Scott Miller said it's still unclear what size fieldhouse is needed at the school. He said a 3,000-square-foot facility would be at least $400,000, and he said one that has 5,000 square feet would be $750,000.

He said legally the city cannot make an appropriation to the volunteer group, and he said if the city gets involve it would need to bid out the project to a contractor. He said that would rule out in-kind contributions.

Mr. Miller said, "You get too many people involved in a project and you turn the spigot on and nothing comes out."

He said the city has about $1 million in its rainy day fund, but some of that money is going to have to go to fire and police needs. He said, if Border Region money cannot be used for a planned new animal shelter, that may have to come from the reserve fund.

On the fieldhouse project, he said the city would have to identify a source of revenue to fund it. He stated, "You can't bid something out that you don't have the money to pay for."

Councilman Jacky Cagle suggested getting going on the project by going ahead with the restrooms and concessions, then adding on to it later as funds come available. However, he later withdrew that idea.

Councilwoman Esther Helton said, "They need a fieldhouse," but she said funding is the issue. She said the Alumni Association was not as active as it previously had been.

City Manager Miller said he will meet with football coach Tim James to nail down what exactly is needed in the fieldhouse and what the size should be.

The council also discussed the planned renovation of the Sweetbay Apartments on Fountain Avenue.

Russell Smith, of Lexington Asset Management, said the owners could go along with a long list of community stipulations, including better security, fencing and lighting and a crime free policy.

He pledged that work will begin soon on tearing down a dilapidated building on the east side of the property.

The council delayed action on the rezoning for the property until Mr. Smith returns with more details on the project on Aug. 23.


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