published Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson questions fire hall plan


by Cliff Hightower
Chris Anderson answers questions during a meeting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board.
Chris Anderson answers questions during a meeting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
CONFIRMATIONS

The Chattanooga City Council confirmed three more department heads Tuesday night. Gayle Keown, who has served the city 47 years, remains city treasurer. Chief Lamar Flint takes over for former Fire Chief Randy Parker. Todd Dockery becomes the new Human Resources director. All three were approved unanimously by the council.

Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson and Fire Chief Lamar Flint plan to make some visits this week.

They will go door-to-door informing residents around 38th Street about a new fire hall to be built and hearing the response.

"I have some concerns about the residents," Anderson said.

The Chattanooga City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday night to defer for a week a proposal to build a $1.5 million fire hall in East Lake near Dodds Avenue.

Mayor Andy Berke's administration said it has no problem with allowing a little extra work into the proposed fire hall.

"We want to make sure the folks are informed," said Travis McDounough, Berke's chief of staff.

Anderson raised questions about the fire hall during a council agenda session, just before the regularly scheduled business meeting. He said he had concerns about it being in a residential area and wondered why the fire hall wasn't built on the more highly trafficked Dodds Avenue.

Anderson said he also wondered how many calls the station would get at night while nearby residents slept. He also asked how much it cost the city to purchase the property.

"I want to know what kind of things were taken into consideration for this request," he said.

City officials later said the city purchased the property for $81,000 during the administration of former mayor Ron Littlefield.

Chief Lamar Flint told Anderson he planned on getting more data concerning the times and types of calls the fire hall would see in the future.

He said the city chose the property because of its low price.

Anderson admitted he hadn't talked to the residents, but he said he wanted an opportunity to hear their impressions before he voted.

In other news, council members will be voting next week on allowing up to $300,000 to be spent on studies of four different watersheds within the area.

"What are we spending this on?" asked Councilman Chip Henderson. "We're already monitoring aren't we?"

Tony Kinder, a city water quality engineer, said the answer is to have a flood warning system in place in the near future.

"That's why we're looking at this," he said.

Kinder talked about how a flood hit Atlanta in 2009 and a flood hit Nashville in 2010 that killed 11 people. He said the same could happen here and that if the same amount of rain that hit Nashville came to Chattanooga the city could see $2.5 billion in damage and almost all of the downtown area would be underwater.

He said the studies could help lay future foundations for the warning system.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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