There were many notable developments in Tusculum in 2017, with more anticipated in 2018, Mayor Alan Corley said.
Looking back to 2017, “It was an exciting year,” Corley said.
What developments took place in 2017, particularly in regard to Tusculum’s economic growth?
Here are some developments in 2017 that Corley cited:
- The Aldi market chain announced plans to build a supermarket on East Andrew Johnson Highway, across the street from Walmart and located next to Consumer Credit Union headquarters. Work on the building is nearly complete, and a company spokesman said that April is the projected opening date. Between 15 and 20 people will be employed at the Tusculum Aldi.
- The Chuckey Utility District announced plans to build a new office building on the Tusculum Bypass.
- “(There are) many exciting happenings at Tusculum College — including a new president, the Meen Center was dedicated and began hosting students in its classrooms, plans were announced and an inaugural dean named for a new School of Optometry. A Chick-Fil-A restaurant is coming to the Niswonger Commons this summer, added Corley, a member of the Tusculum College board of trustees.
- The disappointing announcement last year by the Houston Astros organization that the team is pulling out of Greeneville was soon tempered by news that the Cincinnati Reds organization will operate a minor league baseball team at Pioneer Park beginning with the 2018 season.
- Pioneer Park hosted the NCAA Division III World Series for the first time in 2017, and will do so again from May 26 through 31.
- Quick Stop No. 5 demolished their existing building on East Andrew Johnson Highway at Ripley Island Road and rebuilt a new, modern and expanded market and fuel center.
- The well-received Old Oak Tap Room opened in the former location of the Chocolate Cafe. Meanwhile, Halos and Threads located in the former site of the Three Blind Mice shop.
- Much-needed structural and other repairs were made to Tusculum City Hall at 145 Alexander St. Remaining work should be completed in 2018.
- Based on a 2016 referendum, ordinances allowing both alcohol package stores and on-premise consumption of alcohol in Tusculum were enacted in 2017, helping to increase the sales tax revenue base for the city, which has no property tax.
- The Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department added some new equipment and updated some older equipment due to grant funding. Regular training exercises overseen by fire Chief Marty Shelton helps firefighters from Tusculum and surrounding districts improve their life-saving skills.
- City financial practices remain sound. A “clean” audit with no findings for the 2016-17 budget year was recently presented to commissioners by David M. Ellis, CPA.
- Curbside twice-a-month recycling pickup was resumed after equipment issues at the Jonesborough recycling center were addressed, allowing the longtime city practice to continue.
While the formal closing of the Greene Valley Development Center property, which lies within Tusculum’s corporate limits, remains an ongoing concern, Corley said the city hopes to have some input into decisions about future uses for the property. The former Greene Valley facility has great potential to meet needs in other segments of the region’s population, elected officials have said.
What projects and changes do you anticipate for Tusculum in 2018?
There are a number of pending issues that need to be addressed:
- Needed safety improvements at the intersection of East Andrew Johnson Highway and the Tusculum ByPass should be addressed later this year by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The improvements by TDOT were approved several years ago, but have been delayed. “The last communication from TDOT indicated that the project should begin this fall,” Corley said.
- Additional upgrades and repairs are needed at Tusculum City Hall, which dates back to the early 1960s. The Board of Mayor and Commissioners have discussed a remodeling project “which will likely occur to reallocate space between the recorder’s office, Tusculum Police Department, and public meeting space,” Corley said. Changes also need to be made to meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and insurance requirements, Corley said.
- A municipal election will occur in November for one commissioner seat, currently held by Mike Burns. A referendum to allow wine sales in grocery stores in Tusculum will likely also be on that ballot, Corley said.
- The future of the Greene Valley Development Center property, which lies within Tusculum’s corporate limits, remains “a primary concern, and the city hopes to have some input into those decisions,” Corley said.
What issues will the city need to address in the coming years?
- One priority, Corley said, is continued commercial development of the East Andrew Johnson Highway corridor in Tusculum. Development within the Tusculum city limits “is a top priority so that we can continue to provide the services our residents depend upon,” Corley said.
- Other issues on the city’s “wish list” likely to be addressed in the near future include the construction of additional space for public meetings and city departments, some of which can be accommodated in a refurbished city hall building, Corley said.
- The city needs a new garbage truck with automated pickup capabilities. Adding a new truck to the city public works fleet “is also on our needs list due both to the age of other trucks and our desire to move to a safer and more efficient method of collecting curbside garbage,” Corley said. Funding mechanisms to assist with the purchase of a new garbage truck are currently under study.
Overall, Corley remains excited about Tusculum’s future.
The city seeks to encourage “retail development of the commercial corridor along the East Andrew Johnson Highway that lies within Tusculum city limits,” Corley recently said.
A 28-acre tract along East Andrew Johnson Highway in Tusculum was rezoned for commercial development in 2016.
There has been “significant interest” from prospective developers about locating businesses on the land, Corley said.