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Town feels ‘no pressure’ to decide future of newly acquired property

With the property at the corner of Boone and Main streets now in the Town of Jonesborough’s possession, leaders are in no rush to make a decision as to what will become of it.
“It’s too early to tell,” said Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe in regards to the future of the former Exxon gas station. “At this point, there’s no pressure since we own it.”
Located at the gateway to Jonesborough’s historic downtown district, the property has been vacant for several years. However, empty underground gas tanks likely made selling it a challenge since they have to be removed before anything can be done there.
Recognizing the importance of owning the property so that the town can have control over what goes there in the future, town officials bought it in October for $85,000.
“The big thing now is that we’re going to have to get those tanks out of there,” said Bob Browning, town administrator. “And we have a game plan for that.”
With inspection services being volunteered and labor to be done by town employees, Browning said he does not foresee there being any issues or high costs associated with the tank removal process.
Meanwhile, Browning said the Board of Mayor and Aldermen will likely discuss a plan to determine the property’s future at the Nov. 14 BMA meeting.
“My suggestion is going to be that we accept proposals for that and look at what the potential might be,” Browning said. “If you accept proposals and allow somebody to say, ‘This is what I’d like to do with it,’ that gives the BMA the option to see what’s out there and then make a decision.”
The town could ultimately sell the property – at a higher price – to someone with a proposal suited for the space, Browning said. Leaders could also decide to lease the area to the right candidate or keep the property in its own possession for development, he added.
Prior to purchasing the former gas station, town leaders discussed possible uses for the property that included a park, a place for tour buses to gather, a weekday location for the farmers market and a model railroad exhibit.
While it remains unclear what will end up going in at the corner property, Wolfe said certain issues must be addressed.
“I want us to engage in a deliberate process that involves some traffic planning and coordinating with our ongoing landscaping plan for downtown,” he said. “I want to look at uses compatible with tourism and with addressing traffic flow issues at that intersection and the availability of parking in downtown.”