The Oak Ridge City Council on Tuesday will discuss the proposed traffic signal on Oak Ridge Turnpike at the High School and a proposal to extend the lease on the Senior Center for five years through 2019.
Those are two of the agenda items for a Tuesday evening work session.
The City Council postponed a vote last week on a contract to install a stoplight on the Oak Ridge Turnpike in front of Oak Ridge High School. The light could eliminate the need for a crossing guard.
City officials had said the light could be installed by August 2015, but the postponement of the contract vote to the April meeting will likely delay the completion date, possibly until after school starts later this year.
The installation could cost roughly $177,000. It would be paid for using unspent money from the Special Programs Fund, the fund set up for traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle safety projects using money from the traffic cameras that were removed last year.
Safety measures have been advocated at that crossing for years, especially to help students crossing from the High School to the Oak Ridge Civic Center, Public Library, and Alvin K. Bissell Park. There have been previous proposals to build a pedestrian bridge there, but it’s been estimated that that would cost $1 million or more.
In March 2014, the City Council asked the Traffic Safety Advisory Board to review possible traffic control measures to improve safety at the crossing. After a few months of study and considering several alternatives, the TSAB recommended a stoplight there in July, and Council, which then included four members who are no longer members, approved the installation.
The stoplight would include an all-red phase that would give pedestrians time to cross while all traffic is stopped. The light would be green except when a pedestrian is trying to cross or a car is trying to turn left out of the Oak Ridge High School.
The Senior Center lease is between the City of Oak Ridge and Anderson County government. The city has been leasing space for the center at a county-owned building on Emory Valley Road since 1999. The current five-year lease expired in December 2014. The city has the option to purchase the property for $1 at the end of the lease.
Several years ago, City Council directed the city manager and Elder Citizens Advisory Board, now called the Senior Advisory Board, to work on developing a timeline for building a new senior center. As part of that plan, the board was forming a nonprofit organization to raise construction funds. But the fundraising did not go as planned, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said, and little money was raised.
There have been leadership changes as well since then among the participating bodies and agencies, including on City Council.
Watson said various locations and options have been discussed, but the “city’s fiscal situation has not lent itself to development and construction of a new senior center.”
Meanwhile, Anderson County has offered to continue the lease agreement for another five-year term (January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2019) at a rate of $5,170 per month. The city would still have the option of buying the property for $1 at the end of the term.
“This option will allow the city to move forward with plans for a new senior center if funds are raised and City Council elects to exercise the option,” Watson said.
Also on Tuesday’s agenda are budget-related items. The work session starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, in the Multipurpose Room at the Central Services Complex on Woodbury Lane. See the agenda here.