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City approves contract for next step in greenway, sewer improvements
Karen House
Fri Aug 26 12:31:30 2016

Coops Creek Trail will cross Rankin Avenue on the far side of this bridge when Phase II of the greenway is completed. The crossing will include signs and lights that may be activated by walkers, joggers, and cyclists traveling the path.

In a special called meeting Thursday, Aug. 25, the Dunlap Mayor and City Commission accepted contracts from Farmer-Morgan design company for the planning and design of two grant-funded projects in downtown Dunlap.

While several bids were under consideration, a city committee and City Attorney Steve Greer looked over the submissions and agreed that Farmer-Morgan's contract was suitable for both jobs.

Benjamin Farmer answered questions posed by the City Commission at the meeting, and the vote on both contracts was unanimous.

The larger of the two projects is Phase II of the Coops Creek greenway, which "takes the walking trail to Griffith Elementary," Farmer said.

Starting at the Coops Creek Trail, next to the Sonic Restaurant on Rankin Avenue, the new development will feature a crosswalk for pedestrians, cyclists, and skateboarders to get over the road to the other side, right beside the Coops Creek Bridge. It will include signs and lights that flash when a button is pushed, to stop motorized traffic.

From there, the trail is planned to go up behind the commercial and residential areas, following an old railroad bed to Griffith Elementary School.

There is a glitch in the planning, because the Sequatchie County School Board has yet to approve a request from the city for a permanent easement that would allow the path to cross a corner of school property.

"Some easements are still in play," Farmer said, making an oblique reference to the reluctance of the School Board. "We'll be getting this finalized and move forward."

Farmer estimated his firm would "be done with design in October" and begin taking bids in November.

"We've got over a year with the funding source," he said, "but I'd like to see us get started and get there sooner."

The $849,765 construction project is financed through a $591,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportion (TDOT), and so is under constraints from TDOT with regard to when the work is started and completed. The city contributes $258,000 in matching funds.

Dunlap Chief Financial Officer Norman Hatfield informed the commission that Park Director Mark Easterly would help with inspecting the greenway as it is constructed.

"We should be actually turning dirt in the spring," Hatfield said.

The second contract awarded Farmer-Morgan is for planning improvements to the Dunlap sewer system.

The study into how to improve the city's handling of storm water is financed through a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

"We were looking for money, because we knew we needed this," Mayor Dwain Land explained. "We found this money -- $15,000 in federal funds. We were well pleased to get that, because they don't give that out lightly."

Farmer referred to the project as an "assessment report."

"This will make serious recommendations on how to proceed," he said.

The USDA Storm Water Project requires a $5,000 local match from the city.

Benjamin Farmer, of the design firm Farmer-Morgan, addressed the City Commission at the special called meeting Thursday night.