The Oak Ridge City Council on Monday will consider an in-kind design agreement for renovation work at Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong Stadium and $70,000 in funding for renovations for Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, which is moving to a county-owned building on Emory Valley Road.
The Blankenship Field design contract would be awarded to Barge Design Solutions of Knoxville. It would be an in-kind donation to the project, valued at up to $50,000, and used to help meet the requirement to have matching funds for a Local Park and Recreation Fund grant awarded to the city by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. That $496,000 grant required a 50 percent local match, which is to come from the Blankenship Field Revitalization Foundation.
The Barge Design Solutions work would include surveying, civil engineering, landscape design, permitting, and construction administration.
The roughly $1 million project is called the Oak Ridge Blankenship Field Renovation and Trailhead Improvement Project.
In an attachment to the City Council resolution, Barge Design Solutions said the project will include the following improvements:
- Conversion of the existing natural turf football field to synthetic turf
- New goal posts and south end kicking net
- Resurfacing of the existing track
- Field fencing and sidewalks
- Trailhead improvements to include landscaping and a pre-fabricated restroom facility
The enhancements at Blankenship Field, which is owned by the city, will also include bathrooms on the visitors side, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson told the League of Women Voters during a lunchtime presentation on Tuesday.
The TDEC grant includes a stipulation that the entire facility be open for public use during non-event times. So Blankenship Field and its amenities will be operated like a city park, meaning it will be open to the public from dawn until dusk every day. The only exception would be during scheduled sporting events or other scheduled community activities that may take place inside the facility throughout the year. The city has coordinated with the Oak Ridge Board of Education to create a joint operational agreement for management and maintenance of the stadium facilities.
The city applied for the TDEC grant in 2016 and was notified of acceptance and approval early in 2017. The grant contract, received on November 28, was reviewed and signed by the city staff and then returned to state officials in early December. City officials expected the signed contract to be sent back to the city within four weeks, with work expected once the document was received.
On Tuesday, Watson said the executed contract was received January 20. It will be a challenge to complete the synthetic turf by graduation, Watson said, but the city is doing its best to push the project along.
The city had said in December that the renovation work at Blankenship Field and Jack Armstrong Stadium could start in January and be complete by June.
Regarding the $70,000 for General Sessions Court, Watson told Council members in a memo that the funding includes a $20,000 allocation from the fiscal year 2018 budget, which started July 1; an additional $20,000 to be approved by the City Council; and a $30,000 advance from the fiscal year 2019 allocation. That’s $70,000 total.
It would be used for renovations for the courthouse at the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center on Emory Valley Road, a building owned by the county. The court is relocating there from a privately owned building on Bus Terminal Road.
“Over 18 months ago, Anderson County discussed the need to improve its Sessions Court facilities in Oak Ridge,” Watson wrote in the January 30 memo. “The Oak Ridge Sessions Court is important to the efficiency of the court system by making available facilities in not only Oak Ridge, but also serving Anderson County, Oliver Springs, and Rocky Top law enforcement and citizens. The Anderson County Commission decided to invest in the Daniel Arthur facility when the City of Oak Ridge decided to move its senior citizen center close to downtown, where a new facility would be built.”
The Anderson County Commission did not anticipate some building costs, Watson said. Those include the need for a large secondary heating and cooling (HVAC) system, upgrades to meet codes, and firewalls.
“This has resulted in some change orders, and the Commission has asked the city to consider further financial contributions toward this project,” Watson said. “The final product is expected to be secure, efficient, and helpful for the records needs of the court system, but costs have mounted with change orders.”
Watson said the additional financial support continues cooperation between the city and county. The two governments have worked together on fire services, animal control, and law enforcement, Watson said, and the Sessions Court helps the Oak Ridge Police Department by providing a facility that is close when they are required to be at court cases. That eliminates travel and wait times, Watson said. The other Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division I, is in Clinton.
“Anderson County is saving costs of the purchase or construction of a new building by investing in the existing county-owned Daniel Arthur Center,” Watson said. “Anderson County has provided financial support to the City of Oak Ridge for the purchase of a fire truck, while the city has in turn issued its surplus trucks to neighboring volunteer fire departments in Anderson County.”
The City Council has previously committed to provide $30,000 per year during a five-year period, starting with the fiscal year 2018 budget, for the courthouse. Anderson County General Sessions Court, Division II, has been located in Oak Ridge since it started, including previously at the Oak Ridge Municipal Building and now at the current building on Bus Terminal Road.
The City Council meeting will start at 7 p.m. Monday, February 12, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom at 200 South Tulane Avenue. See the agenda here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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