Hospital Getting A Signal On 321

Contributed by: Ann Hinch on 12/1/2006

Traffic concerns and community clean-up via building demolition dominated Lenoir City council's meeting Nov. 27.

First, council approved a contract between the city and Tennessee Dept. of Transportation (TDOT) to install a traffic signal on State Highway 321 in front of the Fort Loudoun Medical Center.

Its parent company, Covenant Health, will cover the cost of installation - design, equipment and labor, estimated in excess of $125,000 - to speed the process since, according to a letter from hospital President/CAO Jeffrey Feike, Covenant "simply cannot stand by while the safety of our patients and visitors is at risk." In turn, the city will foot the ongoing costs of light maintenance and electricity.

Council also gave the OK to a change in bridge design along the upcoming Creekwood extension of Adesa Boulevard from 321 to State Highway 70, paralleling Interstate 75.

Originally, developers Ed Loy and Tony Hale were going to put in a concrete box-culvert through Town Creek. The estimated cost of putting in a four-lane single-span bridge, however, is much lower than the culvert - $615,000, compared to $721,000. With no culvert, the developers do not have to obtain as many permits to build in the creek bed, nor disturb it as much.

Councilman Eddie Simpson - who voted against the land annexation in August with concerns about the city's ability to provide sewer service without raising rates, and the road because of the number of easements needed to build - was the only "nay" vote on this change. Incidentally, council is still waiting on TDOT and appraisals to actually negotiate for these easements.

Next, council approved bids for four building demolitions, on advice from Codes Enforcement Officer DeAnn Bogus.

The owner of 461 Church Drive, Una Bowe, is deceased and the property has been abandoned for two years with an outstanding mortgage to CitiFinancial. Bogus explained the city's Better Building Board (BBB) followed proper process, culminating in a demolition order issued in September.

Of the three bids received, Asbestos Management & Environmental Solutions, LLC of Lenoir City won with $2,500, which includes any hazardous waste removal. This firm also had the lowest bids on properties at 602 West Sixth Avenue, $4,500, and 1593 Pine Top Street, $4,000.

Betty Burnett, who is in a nursing home, owns the Sixth Avenue property. Bogus said her brother, Clifton Williams, has power of attorney and attended all but one meeting of the BBB, but never objected to demolition.

Bogus sent notification to Jimmie Duggan, owner of the Pine Top property, but received no response prior to the city's Housing Authority condemning it for demolition. She said the same for 608 West Third Avenue, owned by Bobby Fritts Sr. Neither house is inhabited, according to Bogus.

Councilman Buddy Hines declined to vote on demolition because he worried the city had not exhausted legal means to find any heirs for the Church Drive house, despite city attorney Shannon Littleton's assurances all procedures had been followed.

Even Littleton, however, understood Hines' hesitation. "When you're talking about demolition of a property and no one shows up, you feel odd," he admitted. "You feel better when someone's standing in front of you, because at least you know you got the right person."

Council unanimously accepted all four low bids, including the lowest from Adkins Demolition of Knoxville for the Third Avenue house, at $2,400.