Small 'park' planned in downtown Loudon

Vicky Newman-News-Herald

A small, grassy lot at the entrance of the city of Loudon may be getting some park-like features soon through the Courthouse Square Revitalization program.

The lot, between Annabelle's Emporium and the river, is where a large Christmas tree is placed during the holiday season.

Among the items planned are a gazebo, picnic tables, a wheelchair accessible ramp, a fixed metal garbage can, a fenced and gated dog-walk area and cleanup station and cornhole boards for tournaments.

Residents who attended a public meeting of the Courthouse Square Revitalization Committee in March at City Hall offered the suggestions.

About $22,500 will be needed to provide the features, Mark Harrell, Loudon parks and recreation director, told Loudon City Council on Monday during its regular workshop meeting.

"Dogs are pretty much a way of life now," Harrell said, emphasizing that although a dog cleanup station may seem to invite use of the area as a dog park, it is not a dog park. "A lot of people live downtown and need a place to take their dogs," he said.

The picnic tables were requested so people could take their lunch outdoors.

All items will be designed to be removable in case the lot is needed for another purpose, Harrell said. The 10-by-10 foot gazebo will cost $4,500 and will have benches and a metal roof. It will sit on a concrete pad and will be moveable. Flowers and shrubbery will cost about $4,500.

Harrell suggested web metal picnic tables with vinyl coating like those in the Loudon Municipal Park. Two will cost $2,036. Tables, concrete and a garbage can will cost about $5,000.

"This will look nice," Councilman Lynn Millsaps said.

Councilman Jimmy Parks objected to the $450 cost for the garbage container.

Council also discussed plans to provide a vehicle for Loudon County Economic Development Agency President Pat Phillips through the city's vehicle replacement program with Jacky Jones. Lynn Mills, city manager, said the vehicle would need to remain titled to the city to be a part of that program.

Attorney Joe Ford recommended the city retain the title and lease it to the EDA, which would be responsible for insurance.

In other business, council members:

* Discussed 2012-2013 budget amendments. Mills said the amendments are required by state law when the budgeting process begins for the new year.

* Heard from Mills that he wants to look at the quality of canvas fabric bid out for banners before accepting a bid.

* Discussed a request by Verizon to place a cell tower on city property at the E-911 center.