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Plans continue at old gas station

Town leaders discussed last week plans to finish replacing sidewalks in downtown Jonesborough.
As part of a yearlong construction project, many improvements and some expansions were made to existing brick sidewalks along Main Street.
Work came to a halt, though, for several weeks at the corner of Main and Boone streets while crews worked to fill in old gas tanks at the former Exxon gas station now owned by the town.
“We didn’t want to do any sidewalk work until we got those tanks closed,” Browning explained. “The tanks have been filled. Now, we are just waiting for results from soil testing.”
Crews originally planned to remove the tanks rather than fill them with concrete. However, the discovery that at least one of the tanks was located dangerously close to an underground water culvert led to the change in plans.
Soil samples from around the tanks have been sent off for testing to determine if further work needs to be done to sterilize the area.
“We’ll see whether there’s anything we have to respond to as a result of those tests,” Browning said. “Once we get that done, we’re going to try to come back around with the sidewalk.”
Leaders plan to run the sidewalk from the corner of Boone and Main streets to Sabin Drive. It will run along the old gas station building rather than along Boone Street to prevent parking spaces from being locked between the building and sidewalk.
“Parking between the sidewalk and the building was extremely limiting,” Browning said. “I think it was four spaces maximum in there.”
The adjustment will also eliminate vehicles crossing over the sidewalk to park.
Members of the Traffic Advisory Committee, at their March 28 meeting, endorsed the design plan proposed by contract engineer Todd Wood for that area.
“This is the best plan I’ve seen, certainly,” said Dr. William Kennedy. “It makes a huge difference in what you can do when the town owns the property.”
Kennedy suggested the plan also go to the Historic Zoning Commission for approval. Town staff will also keep lines of communication open with First Baptist Church, which utilizes the parking spaces for its patrons due to the church’s own limited parking.
“There is some potential impact, too, because there are people who run the shops that front Main Street that park over there,” Browning said. “This is a compromise situation. The idea that you have to park right next to your shop is a problematic attitude anyway. We need to be able to use that property effectively.”