Mount Carmel approves property purchase to expand fire/police station site

Jeff Bobo • Oct 1, 2018 at 5:00 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — A year and a half after purchasing two houses for an expansion of the Mount Carmel City Park, city leaders are now looking to purchase a small lot on Cherry Street to expand the police/fire department area.

On Thursday the Mount Carmel Board of Mayor and Alderman authorized City Manager Mike Housewright to acquire an appraisal for a vacant half-acre off Cherry Street which adjoins the city property on Hammond Avenue.

If that appraisal comes in at or above the $15,000 price offered to the city for the lot, Housewright would then be authorized to purchase the property.

The plan discussed Thursday was to allow the fire department to absorb the entire building it shares with the police department, and then use the additional property to build a structure for the police department.

Mayor Chris Jones noted that the property is owned by the wife of a city employee, but City Attorney John Pevy said there is no conflict of interest for the city to purchase the property.

While discussing the Cherry Street property, the BMA also discussed the Maple Street houses it purchased last year.

In April of 2017, the BMA voted unanimously to purchase both houses at the end of Maple Street adjacent to the park for a total of $207,000. Mainly the city wanted the vacant land behind the houses for a future park expansion.

Alderman Eugene Christian said he’d like the city to sell the brick house at the end of the road which is currently used for storage and an office for Building Inspector Vince Pishner. The city would subdivide the house into a separate lot and keep the big backyard.

The yellow house next door was part of the sale but won’t technically belong to the city until its owner passes away, at which time it will be sold to the city for $1, although the vacant land behind the house is available for the city to use.

Christian said selling the house would put it back on the tax rolls and also pay for the Cherry Street property with quite a bit left over.

Pishner reportedly said that the house, minus the rear property, could sell for around $90,000.

Alderman Jennifer Williams expressed concerns about selling the Maple Street house, however, because the city doesn’t know what kind of expansion it might want to do at the park in the future.

Eliminating that lot could hinder a future project, as well as landlock the new property, Williams noted.

Williams said the city can still purchase the Cherry Street property, and that isn’t contingent on selling the Maple Street house.

Alderman Margaret Christian said she was told by Pishner, who didn’t attend the meeting, that the city can sell the Maple Street house and maintain right of way to park.

Following a lengthy discussion, the BMA agreed to direct Housewright to come back to the BMA this month with options on creating an easement between Maple Street and the park as well as an option for turning the brick house into a “flag lot” that would allow the city to sell the house without giving up its right of way to the park.

Grass clipping litter

By a vote of 7-0 the BMA approved the first reading of an ordinance adding grass clippings to the list of prohibited litter by amending the section of the Streets and Sidewalks ordinance titled “Littering street, alleys, or sidewalks prohibited.”

Jones said he had been contacted by motorcycle riders who were concerned about the safety hazard created by grass clippings that are left in the roadway after a mowing.

Mount Carmels’ 2018-19 paving

The BMA approved a low bid of $181,309 from Pave-Well Paving Co. of Blountville to pave Carters Valley Road; portions of Lloyds Chapel Road and McCracken Lane; and the intersection of Belmont Avenue and Main Street at Highway 11-W.

W-L Construction and Paving of Bristol, Va., was the only other bidder at $278,903. The projects were budgeted at $217,000 in the 2018-19 city budget.

Police car video surveillance cameras

The BMA voted 7-0 to advertise for bids for all six police car patrol video surveillance video cameras.

City Manager Mike Housewright said he received a quote or $19,157 to outfit all six patrol cars with cameras and officer body cameras.

Police car markings

MCPD Chief Grady White told the BMA the person who previously installed decals on city police cars used substandard materials that came off when it got hot, so he had all decals removed.

The BMA approved Jones’ motion to have Housewright seek a cost estimate per car for having the police cars and SUVs marked professionally, including the cost option for reflective decals, as well as a separate cost of placing “In God We Trust” on the back bumpers.

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