Council accepts $265,000 bid for
former child shelter property

By Thomas Wilson
The Elizabethton City Council voted 7-0 Thursday night to accept a bid of $265,000 made by local dentist Phillip Gilmer to purchase the former Emergency Child Shelter property located at 208 Parkway Blvd., near the corner of West G Street.
Phillip W. Gilmer submitted the sole bid to purchase the property. The city set a minimum bid of $250,000 for prospective bidder to meet. The approval is subject to the property being rezoned to R-2, medium density residential. In a correspondence to the city, Gilmer states that the rezoning will accommodate dentist/doctor's office.
The Emergency Child Shelter ended operation in July 2002 after the state declined to renew its contract to house at-risk youth at the shelter. The property's ownership reverted back to the city once the shelter closed. The site had been publicly discussed as a future site for the Early Childhood Learning Center of Elizabethton City Schools.
In other business, the city has been advised to change its plans to relocate the Doe River water transmission line by the engineering firm overseeing the project.
The City Council voted in October to hire the J.R. Wauford & Co., Consulting Engineers firm to direct design and construction of a new transmission line that supplies 30 percent of the city's drinkable water from the Hampton spring source. After initially suggesting the new transmission line be attached to the George Brown Bridge on U.S. Highway 19E, Wauford & Co. recommended the city pursue an "open trench" to place the line through the Doe River in a memo received by city officials in December.
Before engineers can make a cut in the river to relocate the line, the city must secure an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit and get regulatory clearance from state and federal agencies including the Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"They are proceeding with the (permitting) process," Elizabethton City Manager Charles Stahl told council members.
The city had sought potential grants from the Tennessee Department of Transportation to construct a linear path bridge to locate the new transmission line. However, no TDOT grants are presently available.
The city and engineering firm have met with representatives of TDEC, TVA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering in October to discuss the logistics of the line's relocation.
"Anytime you get into the river to do a cut, an Aquatic Resource Alteration Permit is necessary," said city Planning and Development Director David Ornduff.
The Flood of 1998 effectively destroyed the 14-inch water transmission line in the Doe River to the Hampton spring. The city constructed a 16-inch water line across the abandoned bridge in 1998 when all indications were that the bridge was stable.
The Hampton, Valley Forge and Big Springs sources supply the city with potable water. The Hampton spring provides one-third of the city's potable water. While the water line itself is functioning, the line extends 240 feet across a decaying bridge crossing the Doe River on the abandoned Highway 19E.
An evaluation report released by Wauford & Co. consultants in September found the bridge has suffered heavy decay since 1998. Wauford consultants found that the bridge was experiencing a "very rapid deterioration, is somewhat unstable and could possibly fall in the immediate future."
City Council also voted to passed a resolution approving the purchase of the Willis L. Kimbro property at 205 Academy St., under the Federal Emergency Management Agency's grant program for properties lying in a flood plain. The property will be purchased for $30,000 with funds being reimbursed to the city by FEMA. A grant from Housing and Urban Development provides the city's 12.5 percent match of the FEMA grant.