The City Council on Monday will consider resolutions that would allow new traffic signals at Oak Ridge High School and Main Street Oak Ridge.
Main Street Oak Ridge is the proposed project that would redevelop the former Oak Ridge Mall. The proposed traffic signal would be on Rutgers Avenue at a new access to Main Street Oak Ridge that the City Council could approve on Monday.
The other traffic signal would be on Oak Ridge Turnpike between Oak Ridge High School and the Civic Center. Council postponed a vote on that stoplight in March.
The ORHS light would include an all-red phase that would give pedestrians time to cross while all traffic is stopped. Officials said the light, which could eliminate the need for a crossing guard, 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.
City officials had said the light could be installed by August, 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.
The contract would be awarded to S&W Contracting Company Inc. of Murfreesboro. That company submitted the lowest of two bids.
At Main Street Oak Ridge, the developer would build the new access off Rutgers Avenue and buy and install the traffic signal, Oak Ridge Public Works Director Gary Cinder said. The new access would be between Manhattan and Northwestern avenues, in the area between Walmart and JCPenney.
The new access will include a dedicated left turn lane for northbound traffic.
The City Council is also scheduled to hear several ordinance amendments related to the Main Street Oak Ridge project, which would redevelop the mall as a mixed-use project that would include retailers, restaurants, residential units, and possibly a hotel. The existing space between the two remaining anchors, Belk and JCPenney, would be demolished, although those two stores would remain.
The Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission unanimously recommended a rezoning for Main Street Oak Ridge in March, and members also unanimously recommended a planned unit development, or PUD, master plan for the project. The City Council will now consider the rezoning and PUD master plan, which will serve as a blueprint for the development. The rezoning and plan will be considered on first reading on Monday and on second reading later this month.
Separately, the City Council will consider an amendment of the city’s zoning ordinance that allows multifamily units in what is known as a UB-2 zone, a unified general business district. The City Council approved the ordinance change in the first of two monthly readings in March. The change helps Main Street Oak Ridge, and Council will consider it in the second of two readings on Monday.
Crosland Southeast, the company that has proposed the redevelopment, hopes to close on the property this summer, begin demolition and construction at about the same time, and have Main Street Oak Ridge open in the fall of 2016.
See a larger version of the master plan here: Main Street Oak Ridge Master Plan.
In other business Monday, the City Council will consider extending the lease for the Senior Center at the county-owned building on Emory Valley Road. The Senior Center lease is between the City of Oak Ridge and Anderson County government. The city has been leasing space there 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.
The City Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, April 13, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom. See the agenda here.