After months of back-and-forth over giving an architect a green light to proceed, the Hamilton County Commission was presented with the first drafts of a new East Brainerd Elementary School, scheduled to be open in August of next year.
The school, which will be located on the site of the former David Brainerd School, is expected to cost $22 million to construct. The old school will be demolished.
Reaction from commissioners to the proposal was positive, on the whole.
Commissioner Joe Graham said that despite his plans to support approving the plans in a vote next week, he was disappointed to see the old school be torn down after having been purchased by the county for $3.5 million in recent years.
"We could have built that school in a lot of other places and had a much better piece of property," Graham said.
Gary Waters, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services for Hamilton County schools, said there would be expansion capabilities for the site in the event of future growth.
The commission also was presented with a presentation by River City Company President Kim White, who recently detailed her desire to enter a PILOT agreement for a duo of housing redevelopment projects located near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. White said the housing facilities would incite new businesses and revenue that would make up for potential taxes waived by the PILOT—a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement brokered between governments and business developers who are expected to bring added economic benefit to an area.
"If we can get more projects like this, in getting students down here that will be here 24/7, then that energy will absolutely spill out," White said. "You'll see more coffee shops, more busy streets and more vibrant spaces."
Commission Chairman Larry Henry said he saw no reason for White to return to the commission next week when the group puts her proposal to a vote.
In other news, Commissioner Fred Skillern was absent from the agenda session, as he was undergoing surgery at Vanderbilt University. At the beginning of the meeting, Henry said the surgery was on Skillern's back and that he hoped to be back in "a couple of meetings."
"He was real optimistic when I talked to him Friday," Henry said.