By Crystal Huskey of the Norris Bulletin
While there were many items on the agenda for Monday’s Norris city council meeting, much of the time was spent discussing the fate of the Oak Road/Garden Road Park playground equipment. The monkey bars were recently removed, and residents spoke out during the meeting expressing their disappointment and sadness. Parents from the area requested that the equipment be preserved and put back, even offering their own time to help make them more safe so that future generations could play on the historic equipment.
The playground is unique in the sense that young and old kids play there, including teens, according to some of the parents who spoke to council.
While the agenda item that was scheduled to be voted on was about donating the monkey bars, council voted instead to table the motion until the community and recreation committee could come together and discuss alternatives. City of Norris Mayor Chris Mitchell said that issues surrounding safety at the local parks go through city manager Scott Hackler, and so council could not make the final call on what happens to the park. Hackler explained that the decision to remove the monkey bars was based off recommendations from the Parks and Recreation Department, but he was not opposed to more discussion about that as well as the swing set.
Other items discussed included:
• The total cost to the city for the East Norris sidewalk, which was $146,724.96. That’s about $13,000 under what was originally budgeted.
• The Sawmill Road project was discussed, and the project is currently in the design review phase. It will next go to final design, and then the right-of-way acquisition project will begin. The goal is to have it completed by the end of 2023. This is a state-managed project, and the right-of-way is decided by the state, according to Hackler. A draft document of those plans are available for public viewing by going to the city office and making a request.
• Laurie Templin was approved to fill the Community Development Board vacancy.
• Larry Beeman was approved to fill the Planning Commission vacancy.
• A budget amendment was approved on ordinance 620. This budget hearing was held prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting, and received no comments. Hackler said there were two types of revenue that weren’t planned in last year’s budget — the Cares Act, which was $25,000, and the sale of surplus trucks. As far as the Cares Act, the funds included $8,500 that went toward reconfiguring the police station office; $8,600 to police overtime; and $7,000 was used for the city office lobby reconfiguration. The sale of the trucks went toward staffing the public office with part time personnel, and general wages.
• The first reading for a zoning ordinance change took place for 2819 Andersonville Highway, a property next to the Museum of Appalachia. This is the first step in changing this property from S1 to C2, as Mayor Mitchell explained. According to Mitchell and former councilman Jack Black, who spoke during this portion, this change is in line with what the Museum of Appalachia has been planning for over a decade. According to Hackler, when the museum has an event, there’s a field to the west, and much of the area — around 17 acres — being considered for rezoning is where most of the event parking is. There will be a public hearing on the change prior to next month’s council meeting, at which time the Bulletin will report more information.
The Norris Bulletin
P.O. Box 1527, Norris, TN