Cruise-in logistics vex council members   

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Members of the Elizabethton City Council want to keep the downtown "Cruise-In" from taking a wrong turn by getting a better understanding of details about street closings and the duration of the event.
  "We don't have any kind of hard core indications on what should be done," Mayor Pro Tem Sam Shipley said during Thursday night's council meeting. "It seems that everybody is dealing on assumptions."
  The City Council voted in March authorizing the Carter County Car Club to hold its "Cruise-In" event in downtown Elizabethton Saturday nights from April through October. The event closes traffic through the downtown area along East Elk Avenue from Lynn Avenue to Riverside Drive.
  At issue Thursday night were parking concerns for downtown businesses and the time limits of the event. Shipley said it was his understanding parking would remain available to citizens along the 400 block of East Elk Avenue . He said he had received telephone calls from some downtown merchants complaining about parking spaces being inaccessible due to cars and closures at last weekend's event.
  Shipley along with council members Nancy Alsup and Richard Sammons felt further dialogue is needed between the city and Carter County Car Club in the future to iron out logistical problems and event starting times.
  Council members voted 6-0 to permit the right lane along East Elk Avenue to remain open to the 400 block at Pine Street and permit traffic to turn left or right. Councilwoman Janie McKinney was absent from the meeting.
  Council members also modified a request to close the 600 block of West Elk Avenue for a parade involving the Car Club during the Covered Bridge Festival Friday night. The closure request permitted a parade of cars to taxi from the Elizabethton Carter County Chamber of Commerce on U.S. Highway 19E over East Elk Avenue, across the Elk Avenue Bridge and through the 600 block. The request sought to close the 600 block to through traffic at 5 p.m. and start the parade at 6:30 p.m.
  Sammons moved to close the block but moved the starting time to 6 p.m. Friday after Councilman Bill Carter pointed out local banks and other businesses on East Elk Avenue would still be open at 5 p.m. Friday.
  Council members also discussed getting additional information on the structural condition of the Covered Bridge before acting on an engineering firm's recommendation to close the bridge to vehicle traffic. In a letter sent to the city's Planning and Development Department last month, Tysinger, Hampton and Partners engineering firm recommended closing the bridge to vehicle traffic citing increased.
  In other business, the council adopted the 2004-2005 city budget proposal on second reading. The city's fiscal year 2005 general fund budget comes in at $11.9 million. Council members also adopted on second reading an ordinance keeping the city's real property tax rate unchanged at $2.30 per $100 of assessed value.
  Council members also voted 6-0 on the following items:
  * A resolution permitting the city into a contract with the Tennessee Economic and Community Development Department for a $290,500 Community Block Development Grant (CBDG) to fund relocation of the Hampton Spring water transmission line. The 16-inch water line lies encased in concrete extending over the abandoned U.S. Highway 19E bridge that crosses the Doe River. Total cost for replacing the line is estimated at $350,000 with the city government required to come up with $59,500 to match the CDBG funding. Council also approved a separate contract not to exceed $15,000 with the First Tennessee Developmental District for technical support and administrative support in connection with the project.
  * Adopted on second reading an ordinance to prohibit public parking along the Elk Avenue Bridge.
  * A resolution approving an agreement with Tysinger, Hampton and Partners to evaluate property for possible development near Interstate 26. The agreement calls for the city to provide $1,250 towards the study with the county government providing a matching $1,250 amount.
  * A contract with the Tennessee Department of Health funding $28,500 for the operation of the Carter County Health Department during the 2004-2005 fiscal year.