The Oak Ridge City Council agreed last week in a 5-2 vote to use $180,000 in traffic camera money for improvements to the lower parking lot at Blankenship Field, which is used for football games and high school graduation.
The request from Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan was reviewed at a City Council work session on April 28.
The work could include resurfacing work at the lower parking lot and access to the lower levels and visitors bleachers under the American with Disabilities Act. The project has been reviewed by the city staff, and it could include resurfacing, ADA improvements, handicapped parking, and new pavement and striping.
The work would complement a project to replace the demolished visitors bleachers at Blankenship Field, a $455,000 project that was unanimously approved by the Oak Ridge Board of Education in March. The bleachers had been deemed unsafe, and school officials are hoping to replace them before the first home football game on Aug. 29. The school board agreed to use the school system’s fund balance to pay for the replacement bleachers.
The work is also expected to complement work planned by members of a Blankenship Revitalization Committee and a separate Jackson Square revitalization project that could start this summer and use a roughly $800,000 state grant.
City officials said $813,970 would be left in the traffic camera fund after the Blankenship Field parking lot improvements. City Council did not renew the five-year camera contract with Redflex Traffic Systems in March, and it expired April 21, meaning the cameras are no longer issuing citations.
Motions to lower the amount of traffic camera money used for the Blankenship Field improvements failed during the City Council meeting last week. Voting for the main motion to use the $180,000 in traffic camera money for the Blankenship Field improvements were Beehan, Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller, and City Council members Charlie Hensley, Chuck Hope, and David Mosby. Voting against it were Council members Trina Baughn and Anne Garcia Garland.