Johnson City Approves Contract to Design Innovation Park | New
City officials are getting the ball rolling on a long-planned project that they hope will attract development and job growth to a vacant property in Johnson City.
Commissioners approved a $ 346,500 contract with engineering consultant S&ME Inc. to provide infrastructure design services on an empty 30-acre plot that is part of the Innovation Park project. The city owns the land, which is off West Market Street. Funding will come from the Public Building Authority.
The plan for the innovation park encompasses both the city’s 30-acre property and an adjacent 30-acre property owned by East Tennessee State University. The ETSU grounds are currently home to medical clinics and the innovation lab, but there is some developable space available.
S&ME will be responsible for developing preliminary plans and final construction documents for a road, utilities and stormwater management. The consultant will work with Realty Trust Group, which is under contract with the PBA, during the design process and management of the construction phase.
In the 1980s, city leaders began to develop a plan for an economic corridor that would promote medical technology, research and development, and job growth. The project included a north, central and south anchor. Today, the north anchor is Med-Tech Park, the south anchor is Millennium Park, and the central anchor is Innovation Park.
Hank Carr, senior vice president of Realty Trust Group, told commissioners Innovation Park has not grown as fast as its counterparts.
“There are reasons for this,” Carr said. “We could talk for a long time about the ownership structure and how it was created, but at the end of the day 60 acres of land sits in the heart of your business district … and we just never got it. given the right time, attention and funding to get it started. “
Carr noted that the planning process will include input from multiple stakeholders, including city officials and the ETSU. The consultants will eventually come back with a design and price for the project. At this point, they will complete the design and then the project will be auctioned off and built.
Carr said the overall planning process will undermine the ultimate vision for the innovation park. Carr noted that the field could in theory support college education initiatives, start-ups looking for places to expand, or uses for healthcare, although he added that there are already had enough land devoted to it.
“There isn’t another city that I know (with) 65,000 or 70,000 residents that had a vision for a Med-Tech park, a Millennium Park and an Innovation Park and did it.” , Carr said. and I am delighted to be part of the finish. “
The city honors employees
During their meeting on Thursday, the commissioners also paid tribute to Freedom Hall Civic Center director Bobbie Shirley, who is retiring after 46 years in the city.
Mayor Joe Wise presented a proclamation to Shirley acknowledging her service. She also received a Certificate of Appreciation from Governor Bill Lee’s office.
Shirley was first employed at the Freedom Hall Civic Center when the building opened on July 5, 1974. She has helped present over 2,000 shows and events to the Johnson City community, including Bob Hope, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Elton John and Reba McEntire.
“Freedom Hall won’t be the same without you,” Commissioner Jenny Brock told Shirley. “I’ve always known … that if you want information about Freedom Hall or the history of Freedom Hall, you are the one who has it all.”
Commissioners also recognized Acting Fire Chief David Bell and District Chief Jonathan Fulmer for completing the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Program, which the city says is considered the premier leadership training institution. in fire rescue in the United States.
Of the 1,500 program graduates, 50 are from Tennessee. Bell and Fulmer are the only current members of the Johnson City Fire Department to have completed the program, but a third member is expected to graduate next year.