Lenoir City mayor has clear vision

Downtown, new city hall still on his agenda

By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com

LENOIR CITY - Lenoir City Mayor Matt Brookshire doesn't have any doubts about where he wants to take the city during his next term.

Financial challenges may slow things down, but Brookshire, now entering his eighth year in office, said his goals are clear.

He plans to continue to work toward completing the projects begun in his earlier administrations, including building a new city hall and revitalizing the downtown.

"It's what I said I was going to do. The voters said, 'We agree.' "

Three incumbent members of City Council also were re-elected in November, a situation that residents say bodes well for getting things done.

"He's got the city on the move," said longtime Lenoir City resident Ott McGill. "He's got the City Council and the mayor's office working together."

Brookshire readily admits it may require another term in office to complete his goals.

Although the city has already purchased the land needed for the buildings and is ready to request architectural plans, an additional $8 million to $10 million in funding is needed to complete the project.

"We may not be able to start in the next two years," he said. "We need funding, and sales tax growth is slow."

Despite the slowdown in tax revenue, there are a number of reasons to be optimistic, including strong growth along U.S. 321, including the Town Creek retail and commercial development.

Although the 321 corridor may offer the greatest hope for increased sales tax revenue, revitalizing the downtown remains Brookshire's primary focus.

"We want to make the town look good," he said. "People like it when the downtown looks good."

The other challenges include increased cost of city employee benefits, infrastructure improvements such as a $1.5 million water system upgrade, and a half-million-dollar investment in improving the traffic flow.

"We're hoping to find a way to make the traffic flow better," he said.

Working with the same City Council members who have already approved the new city hall and the other upgrades should make the task easier.

Councilman Tony Aikens was also re-elected last month. Aikens, who also serves as chief deputy of the Loudon County Sheriff's Office, said he feels the citizens are happy with the plans for the new city hall and improvements to the city infrastructure but that they also are concerned with keeping taxes low.

"They want to see these improvements but also want to keep water and sewer rates low," he said.