County prepares list of priorities

County prepares list of priorities

February 14th, 2010 by Matt Wilson in News

A list of Hamilton County projects totaling more than $32 million soon will make its way to Washington, D.C., if county commissioners vote to approve it.

"It gives our federal representatives a good idea of what's important to the local government," said Jeannine Alday, County Mayor Claude Ramsey's chief of staff.

Ms. Alday said the list -- to be voted on Wednesday -- is an alert to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.; U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., to be on the lookout for federal money that could be put toward the projects. In the past, the county has seen funding for "a pretty high percentage" of projects, she said.

Rep. Wamp, who represents the Chattanooga area, could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Alday said county officials are aware that "it's a very difficult year to be asking for anything," but they wanted to put the projects in front of federal officials. She said funding for such projects sometimes comes "two or three years down the road."

The list includes about $4.5 million to extend the Tennessee Riverwalk, about $4.5 million for rail projects at Enterprise South industrial park and $14.4 million for a connector road from state Highway 58 to Enterprise South.

Another entry on the list raised a question from Commissioner Richard Casavant -- $500,000 to cover three years of a regional planning initiative.

Ms. Alday said that money would follow up the STAND survey conducted by CreateHere over the summer.


* Highway 58 connector road to Enterprise South

* Rail projects at Enterprise South

* Riverwalk extension

* Crisis Intervention Team Receiving Center

* Regional planning initiative

* Nuclear non-destructive center of excellence

* Regional law enforcement training center

* Family justice center

Source: Hamilton County government

"We're in the process of developing a system in which we can follow up on the visioning process for the community and also the infrastructure improvements that will be made as a result of the development at Enterprise South," she said. "We're doing some additional planning in several areas to be able to address the influx of people and jobs into this community."

Dr. Casavant raised another question: What if none of the federal funding comes through?

"Will these projects find their way into our budget in May?" he asked.

Mr. Ramsey said the projects might find their way into the county budget "sometime in our lifetime."

"There may be some part of it," he said. "But we're very careful with our finances."

One item on the list simply is a reiteration of support for a stimulus grant for road, rail and public transit projects officials applied for last year. The so-called TIGER grant would bring the county $39.9 million.