For many years, East Ridge has been talking about building a new animal shelter to replace the 60-year-old building that is being used now. The shelter is in a floodplain and the animals must be evacuated during times of heavy rain, said Assistant City Manager Kenny Custer at the Thursday night council meeting. Officials have been looking for appropriate property all around the city. Two adjacent lots at 1520 and 1524 Rebecca Dr. recently became available when the church next door decided to sell the property.
“It’s the most perfect spot for the shelter,” said East Ridge resident Mimi Lowry. Others in the room were in agreement with one exception. The owner of Colony Apartments told the council that since Rebecca Drive is a narrow road, a shelter would be right in the front door of residents who live in his apartments. He worried about the noise and odor coming from a shelter. New shelters are built differently now, said the city manager, with more indoor play space. Barking should not be heard unless someone is standing inside, and there are no odors, he said.
Mr. Custer said the combined lots are large, measuring 31,850 square feet for a building with a footprint of only 5,000-7,000 square feet. And, it is not in a floodplain, he said. The city’s staff has looked at different shelter designs to find features that will fit what the city needs. The vote was unanimous for authorizing the city manager to explore, negotiate and enter into a purchase agreement between the city and Christian Church in Tennessee Disciples of Christ and to take action to close the purchase for $50,000.
A donation of $2,500 from Hampton Inn East Ridge to support the animal services department was accepted by the council.
The search for a new city manager to replace Scott Miller, who retired in August, has resulted in eight applicants that the council would like to interview. They are: Lyndon Bonner, Chris Dorsey, Alan Geans, Glenn Irby, Caryn Miller, David Milliron, Kevin Owens and William Vance. Council members voted to ask MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service), an organization that offers programs and services to cities in Tennessee, for their involvement in narrowing the field. Mr. Custer said their expertise could be beneficial by “stopping the revolving door” of city managers for East Ridge. There have been 13 in the past 18 years, he said. MTAS will conduct the first round of interviews, make assessments and recommendations. The council will also conduct interviews which will be open to the public and make the final decision.
An amendment to the city’s beer ordinance was on the agenda. The proposal would have reduced the buffer between a business that sells beer and a church or school to zero feet from the 250 that is in the current code. An eight-foot privacy fence and a landscape barrier would have been required to replace the buffer. Another condition in the amendment would have prohibited selling beer outside on Wednesday and Sunday evenings. The only speakers from the community in opposition were two pastors of local churches.
The other speakers felt that the existing ordinance was sufficient. The proposed amendments were seen as a determent for restaurants that might be considering locating in East Ridge. “You can’t tell a business when they can be open just because church is in session,” said one speaker. The restaurants could still sell any other kind of alcohol, because that is regulated by the state of Tennessee, not the city. “If somebody has a problem with alcohol, they shouldn’t go where it is sold,” said another. “It’s time to move into the 21st Century. We have to pay bills and this is one way to get it done,” said Council member Mike Chauncy before the four to one vote which removed the proposed restrictions.
The council voted to apply for a grant from the National Football League Foundation Grassroots Program that would require the East Ridge to provide 50 percent of the matching grant funds, if it is awarded to the city. If received, it would help fund the construction of a multi-use facility located at the East Ridge High School football stadium. The combined contributions from the city and the NFL could be as much as $500,000 and would pay for refurbishing two tennis courts, one outdoor basketball court, restrooms, player locker rooms and a workout facility and turn the space into a community center.
The council authorized the purchase of sixteen aluminum bleachers with colored powder coated seats that will replace ones that have been demolished in the project to refurbish Camp Jordan. The approved price is not to exceed $40,295.
Another amenity will be offered at Camp Jordan with the council’s approval of an agreement with Battlefield Outdoors for rentals of recreational equipment such as bikes, kayaks and disc golf equipment. They will also lead guided tours along the creek. The agreement is for five years with the city receiving a percentage of gross sales that will increase incrementally each year from 10 percent the first year, to 20 percent in year five.
The city will also enter into an agreement with the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club to help promote soccer development in the area to promote recreational league soccer in and around East Ridge. CRW will contribute $1,200 each of the three years of the agreement.
The council also authorized a contract with HHM Certified Public Accountants for auditing services as required by the state of Tennessee. The audit fee is not to exceed $28,900.