Council approves consent order for Sugar Hollow; memorial committee honored

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Elizabethton City Council voted to approve a consent order city officials hope will bring a cost-effective solution to recapping the Sugar Hollow Dumpsite.
   City Manager Charles Stahl said city administrators had talked with state officials regarding a method of remediating the site with payment made by the city over a period of time.
   "My hope is up to 10 years," said Stahl of the state's option for the city's payment of up to $650,000 to remediate the landfill.
   "It is something we need to have an extended period of time to do," added city Planning Director David Ornduff. With the consent order's approval, the city is expected to enter the Voluntary Cleanup Oversight and Assistance Program (VOAP) to remediate the site and put a clay cap on the landfill.
   A state-hired consultant had estimated recapping the landfill would cost $650,000 if the city entered the state's Voluntary Cleanup Oversight and Assistance Program and performed the cleanup without major state intervention, according to a TDEC representative.
   If the state does the entire capping work, the re-capping cost rises to an estimated $1.6 million, according to the state.
   The Sugar Hollow property was leased by the city for use as a solid waste dump site in 1958. The dump remained open until the early 1970s when the state ordered the site closed by July 1972.
   The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation began a preliminary assessment of the site on the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1997.
   Also at issue was a negotiation between the city and Mapes Piano Strings Company regarding the company's level of financial participation in remediating the landfill.
   Mapes had removed 60 cubic yards of hazardous waste-like material located on the surface of the dump after TDEC conducted a site investigation of the landfill in May 1999, according to the TDEC officials.
   Mayor Sam LaPorte stated that regardless of proposals proffered to the city, it was the Council's responsibility to consider and make agreements presented by city administration.
   "We are going forward with or without Mapes," said LaPorte.
   Attorneys representing Mapes Piano Strings Company had offered to contribute over $46,000 plus a $5,000 fee -- to participate in the city's remediation of the landfill, according to correspondence to Stahl.
   In a letter from Stahl to Mapes' attorney, the city said it was prepared to enter into a consent order with the company subject to certain criteria.
   However, the city advised the company it could not indemnify the company from other liabilities regarding the landfill, and asked that Mapes offer to contribute 15 to 20 percent of the $650,000 costs to bring the landfill's existing cap up to state Subtitle D Standards.
   The Council voted 6-0 with Diane Morris absent to approve the consent order.
   In other business, the council also once again heard complaints regarding noise from citizens residing near Creekside Coffey Cafe on the Milligan Highway.
   "I don't know what to do anymore," said Robert Szabo, who appeared before the council with a complaint last month. "You can only take so much."
   Szabo said noise, especially music, emanating from the business frequently kept his family up at night.
   The cafe's owner, Jack Coffey, told the Council the restaurant had been opened one year with no complaints from any residents -- until the business received its license to sell beer in August.
   "We opened on June 23, 2001," Coffey said. "This did not start until we got our beer permit. They detest the fact we have a beer permit."
   The Cafe has an on-premise permit to sell beer issued by the city. The permit requires a minimum seating capacity for a business and 51 percent of a restaurant's sales must come from food offerings.
   Coffey disputed Szabo's claim that music had been played after midnight on Wednesday night and other nights alleged by local residents.
   "We've had music there," Coffey said. "(Police) have come out nine times that I know of and one time out of nine it was found to be loud. We are trying our best to keep things contained."
   Coffey produced a device he claimed measured decibel levels and offered to provide them to the city's police department to gauge noise levels outside the business.
   An issue separate to noise but possibly pertaining to the restaurant's license to sell beer was a recent citation for allegedly selling alcohol to a minor.
   Elizabethton Police Deputy Chief Larry Shell said the restaurant had received one citation for prohibited sale of alcohol to a minor during an undercover operation.
   Stahl said the Council could convene as the city Beverage Board next month to hear the police department's findings of the sting operation gauging the potential sale of alcohol to minors to beer permit holders.
   The Council also recognized the Veterans War Memorial Committee that mustered support for the memorial in downtown Elizabethton. The Committee received over 400 individual case donations ranging from 50 cents to $15,000 totaling over $115,000 to fund the memorial's construction.
   In-kind contributions totaling $150,000 were also received in support of the monument.