Construction starts Monday on a new city hall for Etowah, Tennessee, on the town's main drag thanks to a recently approved $1 million loan.
The project estimated at about $750,000 is scheduled to be finished by mid-March 2020, according to city manager Tina Tuggle. The loan also will help fund a new community pool, estimated to cost between $850,000-$950,000. Loan money will be teamed with a $375,000 state grant, a $300,000 donation and $75,000 in matching funds from the city for the pool project.
Appropriately, the new city hall building will reflect the styling of its historic neighbor, Etowah's L&N Depot, Tuggle said. The new building will be built on land immediately north of the depot property on Tennessee Avenue.
"The new City Hall will complement the L & N Depot," Tuggle said via email. "It is not a scaled-down version. It will have several of the same features, but yet [be] different."
The new city hall won't have space for city commission meetings, which commissioners decided would continue to be held at the Etowah Community Center on Robinson Street, she said. The new building will house the city's administrative, human resources, finance, court clerk, and codes and building inspector offices.
For much of its existence, city hall offices were housed in the downstairs portion of Etowah's historic 1915-era Carnegie Library. More recently, city hall offices have been temporarily housed in a rented former doctor's office on the north end of town.
City Commissioner Gene Keller said he's excited to see the project get started.
"I think it's going to compliment the city and the depot," Keller said, noting the design will draw on the depot's look. "It's really going to look nice."
Etowah dates back to the early 1900s when the Louisville & Nashville Railroad was building a rail line from Atlanta to Cincinnati to replace a more rugged route built in 1890 to link Atlanta to Knoxville, according to history on the city's website. After some false starts in two nearby communities, the railroad facility wound up in the town that would be called Etowah.
Costs of construction of the city hall and pool projects have soared since the first estimates, Tuggle said, noting that the original $406,000 loan the city obtained fell well short of increased cost estimates. City leaders decided that, since the loan was less than a year old, the city would repay it and seek another lower-interest, longer-term loan to cover the increased costs on both projects.
The long-awaited new community pool will be paid for with loan funds, a grant and a $300,000 anonymous donation made back in 2015 to help build it.
The old pool at Sixth Street and Louisiana Avenue was the state of the art when it was built in 1970. But by the 1990s, it was showing its age and maintenance costs were starting to mount. In 2007, the pool was finally closed. A new splash pad opened in its place in 2016 that is free to the public.
The new pool will be located adjacent to the splash pad on the same block, officials said.
"At this time we are working on the design elements of the pool," Tuggle said. "Here, too, is where we ran into an increase of construction costs."
The pool facility will be fully fenced in and include restrooms, showers, and a concession stand. It will meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines for access and parking.
"We will not have final designs for several months, and they will still need to be reviewed and submitted to [the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Local Parks and Recreation Fund] departments prior to the city giving final approval for bidding," Tuggle said. Officials hope to bid the project in early 2020, "but that is not set in stone as of yet."
The new building should take shape quickly and an open house is planned when it's complete, Tuggle said.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.