City Council recently approved funding for two major renovation projects and addressed health care concerns brought forward by retired employees of the city of Chattanooga.
Because of the excess amount of money the city has spent repairing the glass panels on the Holmberg Bridge downtown, the city has decided to replace the glass with stainless steel panels.
Since 2009, the city has changed out 47 broken glass panels on the bridge that cost $270,000 total to repair. Department of Public Works Administrator Justin Holland said that the panels break because of unregulated foot and bike traffic or because of trapped water particles that expand in the panels.
City Council approved a resolution allocating $540,000 for the new panels.
Avondale Youth and Family Development Center
City Council approved a resolution allocating nearly $5 million for renovations on the Avondale Youth and Family Development Center, located at 1305 Dodson Ave.
The renovations will include a nearly entirely new center equipped with art rooms, washrooms, tennis and basketball courts, a gym, picnic pavilion and office space.
This plan was proposed because of the deteriorating state of the center.
“The building has been there for years, and it was long overdue,” District 8 City Councilman Anthony Byrd said. “That building now is falling apart and has … issues that could be dangerous to kids and faculty. We were trying to fight for this even before I was a councilman.”
Renovations are expected to start around mid-January.
A human resources representative said during the meeting that the health care benefits of the new plan were identical to those in the city’s current plan; however, several retired employees came forward during the Dec. 5 meeting to say otherwise.
Vince Dean, a retired police officer who spoke to several other retirees, said he was experiencing difficulty getting a straight answer about whether he could use his current health care provider under the new plan. Although HR said that he could, the insurance company and his doctor gave different answers.
City Council asked HR to delay signing the contract with United Healthcare until the matter could be resolved. The council members had previously all agreed to pass the resolution only under the assumption health care services would not change.
“I’m really angry about this because I think everybody acted in good faith,” District 6 City Councilwoman Carol Berz said. “I think there was some fraudulent information in here, or misleading information.”
City Council and human resources representatives have agreed to sift through the matter during a strategic planning meeting Dec. 12 at 1:30 p.m. City Council encourages retirees affected by the health care change who have questions about it to attend this meeting, which will be held at 1000 Lindsey St.
Alina Hunter-Grah is a contributing writer. She currently attends UTC, where she was previously the news editor of the student newspaper, The University Echo. Alina also worked at CNN during the summer of 2017 and is the former Chattanooga correspondent for 2nd & Church, a literary magazine based out of Nashville. You can reach Alina at [email protected] or on Twitter @alinahuntergrah.