After nearly a decade of debate over the plans, the City of Greeneville has launched its Depot Street Revitalization Project in 2021.
In late July, Greeneville’s council of mayor and aldermen unanimously approved a $7.7 million bid from contractor Summers-Taylor to complete the project.
Work on the project began in October. A first groundbreaking with the municipal authorities took place in November.
The work underway is part of the city’s planned downtown redevelopment project, which includes, among other things, utility upgrades and streetscape improvements along a section of Depot Street, its intersection with Academy Street to near the railway depot building. These improvements include creating wider sidewalks and landscaping with an emphasis on the Depot Street block between Main and Irish streets as a “festival” location.
After the measure was passed, Alderman Cal Doty expressed his gratitude to business owners who have previously done business on Depot Street and want to participate in the revitalization of downtown Greeneville.
“I want to thank those who came to this meeting to support this project and who have already made an investment in Depot Street,” Doty said.
Greeneville Mayor WT Daniels said he was pleased with council’s action on the project after years of trying and was optimistic about the future of the town centre.
“This is the first time the board has been willing to put our money where our mouth is,” Daniels said. “I look forward to spending a lot more time on Depot Street.”
Vaughn & Melton Engineering is overseeing the project and, according to engagement specialist Zack Levine, construction crews are trying to open sidewalks as much as possible in an effort to keep downtown businesses afloat.
Work areas have already changed many times during the project and will continue to do so as the project progresses.
The project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2023.
However, that wasn’t the only project the Greeneville Council of Mayor and Aldermen approved in 2021.
Council also approved the budgeting for the Crowfoot Alley parking project.
Once built, the new parking lot will have 103 available parking spaces. The goal of the project is to provide more parking for downtown visitors.
The City of Greeneville has budgeted approximately $640,000 for the project.
The project has not yet started as the city is waiting for PT Solutions to move to a new building so that its current building can be demolished as part of the project. However, PT Solutions’ future place of business is still under construction and not yet ready for occupancy. Therefore, the city is waiting for PT Solutions to move, so as not to force them to leave and harm the business.
“We don’t want to bankrupt someone to do business. We are doing this project to help bring businesses downtown,” Daniels said.
Vaughn & Melton will manage the project once it begins in addition to the Depot Street project.
In August, the council approved a new hotel tax to be applied in the town of Greeneville.
The measure instituted a 4% lodging tax for people staying in hotels or motels within the city limits.
Greene County has a 7% hotel/motel tax, but the state instituted a policy change that allowed municipalities to levy their own lodging tax in addition to the county tax.
This means that the combined hotel/motel tax rate in the City of Greeneville is now 11%.
A stipulation of the policy is that all tax dollars collected by the city through the hotel tax must be used to support and promote the tourism industry.
“This money will be spent wisely and to promote our community,” Daniels said.
FIRE STATION, EQUIPMENT
Council also approved the construction of a new fire hall on the property between Forest and Carson streets.
The city will spend approximately $3.6 million to build the new station.
The new station will replace the station that sits at the intersection of Vann Road and the Asheville Expressway that is over 60 years old.
Work on the new fire station began in September.
“This fire station will not only meet the needs of today, but also for years to come,” Greeneville Fire Chief Allen Shipley said at the project’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Once built, the new fire station will continue like its predecessor to serve the southwest side of Greeneville. It will have three equipment bays, similar to the existing one, but will have pass-through bays to help reduce maintenance and security issues. The bays will comprise approximately 9,000 square feet, with space for future expansion for an emergency operations center, as well as living quarters and office space. The station will house a frontline engine, a reserve engine and a fully equipped Haz-Mat response unit.
It’s also designed to allow for faster and safer response than the intersection of Vann Road and Asheville Highway allows, Shipley said.
Greeneville Council also approved the purchase of a new fire truck for approximately $1.4 million.
The new truck will include a 100-foot platform that will provide a safe and stable area for firefighters to work and perform victim removal without the victim needing to climb down a ladder. Currently, the Greeneville Fire Department has no means of aerial rescue or operations beyond 75 feet. Greeneville Community Hospital East and Plaza Towers are not 100% accessible with current equipment. The new truck will be able to fully access these buildings.
The new fire truck will be delivered in 16 to 24 months.
The council also authorized the budgeted purchase of a new extrication tool for the fire department, known informally as the “jaws of life”.
The Greeneville Mayor and Aldermen’s Council welcomed a new council member in early September, as Aldermen Kristin Girton joined the council as a First Ward representative.
Girton replaced Buddy Hawk who had been a Greeneville councilman for 12 years. Girton defeated Hawk in the August 5 mayoral election in Greeneville by a single vote.
Alderman Cal Doty retained his seat on the board, being re-elected with more votes than Girton and Hawk.
Hawk was recognized by council at its last meeting on August 18 for his years of service to the city of Greeneville, receiving a coin from the mayor and a standing ovation.
As Hawk left his final meeting as alderman after 12 years on the board, he expressed hope that the good work the town of Greeneville has begun will continue and that the town has improved over the of his mandate.
“I think we’ve done great things and started great things here like the Depot Street project and the new fire station. I hope everything will continue successfully,” Hawk said. “I hope I leave everything better than I found it.”