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Commissioners question paving projects

Three paving requests considered during the Oct. 22 meeting of the Washington County Commission had commissioners questioning who was paying for the jobs and whether the county roads were suffering as a result of this extra work.
Two of the recommendations were from the Town of Jonesborough, and were recommended by the Public Works Committee.
The first was for the paving of Main Street and Second Avenue. The town would pay the estimated $68,000 cost, which is based on the numbers of hours worked and tons of concrete used.
Commissioner Roger Nave asked if paving for the town is taking away from the meeting needs in the county.
Highway Superintendent Johnny Deakins said the work is done at the highway department’s discretion.
“We won’t interrupt our work schedule,” Deakins said. “And the money we’re paid will be used to pave more county roads.”
Commissioner Gearld Sparks made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Mike Ford, to approve the paving. The motion passed with Pat Wolfe abstaining and Commissioner Ben Bowman absent.
The second request from the town is for a new access and connection road in Jonesborough between Headtown Road and Chelsea’s Place and Highway 11E in the area where the new Captain D’s will be located. The road will provide alternate access to commercial properties and help reduce congestion on 11E. Paving will cost the county approximately $55,000.
On a motion from Sparks, seconded by Ford, the motion passed with Commissioner Roger Nave opposed and Bowman absent. Nave objected to the county paving a public access strip to private property, but Deakins said the area is considered a public right-of-way.
The Public Works Committee also recommended the third paving project, which commits the county to an undefined amount from the General Fund to provide paving services for improvements made to Rotary Park in Johnson City.
Mayor Dan Eldridge clarified this paving job is a contribution from the county, where funds for the Highway Department’s work will be paid from the General Fund.
“By statute, the Highway Department can’t give away paving,” he said.
Members of the Rotary Club have made several presentations to county committees trying to garner support for an all-access playground that will provide avenues for physical, social and cognitive development while helping fight childhood obesity.
According to the Rotary Club, most of the community playgrounds in the Tri-Cities are not equipped to accommodate children with disabilities.
The Rotary Park Boundless Playground would serve to combat child obesity and Type II diabetes.
The Rotary Club’s request was the only item on the agenda for the September meeting of the Oversight and Steering Committee, where a presentation about the playground was made.
The Boundless Playground would be located at the park on North Broadway Street. It would serve disabled and non-disabled children, but will require a full revamp of the park to move the parking to the front so traffic will no longer come through the park. In order to make that possible, the playground will have to be pushed closer to the pavilion.
Total cost for the playground is almost $770,000. The club has been working on the project for a couple of years, and has almost raised the $340,000 needed for equipment. The club wants the county to commit to paving the parking lot, which was estimated at $108,000 last year.
At the Oversight and Steering Committee meeting, that group unanimously agreed to send the request back to the Public Works Committee for that body to send to the Budget Committee.
The request was again presented to the Public Works Committee at the group’s Oct. 16 meeting.
There, Commissioner Doyle Cloyd made a motion to send the request to the full commission for a commitment to the project, with a request for a dollar figure to be considered later by the Budget Committee. Commissioner Ben Bowman seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
During the meeting of the full commission on Oct. 22, Commissioner Ethan Flynn made a motion to approve the resolution, which was seconded by Commissioner Joe Grandy. The motion passed with Commissioner David Shanks opposed and Bowman absent.
Shanks said his constituents are opposed to benevolent giving when there is work to be done on the county’s roads. The project is not expected to start this year.