City of Loudon officials can cross one item off the "to do"
When the new mayor and council took office in 2011, they did so with big dreams and
plans. Those plans became goals in a strategic planning workshop led by the University of Tennessee
Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
Within a few months, the effort to make those goals a
reality hit a setback. In a time of revenue shortfalls and economic distress, budget adoption and a
tax rate to fund the 2011-12 budget were beset by the appeals of property appraisals of the city's
two largest industries, Tate & Lyle and Kimberly-Clark.
Nearly three years later, the tax
issue still is not resolved. But while many of the council's identified goals remain on hold for the
present, the city is putting the finishing touches on its new public works building, which was a
renovated and expanded existing city building.
Funding of the project was the major
"If we'd had to build this new, it would have cost at least $1.5 million," Mayor Judy
Keller said. "This was one of our top priorities when we did the strategic plan — a public works
building, a new city hall and regaining the river front. We were able to do this for very little
money. We were good stewards of the taxpayers' money."
Bill Fagg, public works director, said
the building in which public works had been located for 45 years was far too small to be functional.
It did not have covered space to protect expensive public works equipment.
The building to
which public works relocated on Keene Street formerly was a Loudon Utilities Board facility. Built
in 1984, it started as a maintenance building for gas, water, sewer and electric vehicles. LUB
needed more space and moved out in 1997. Since then, the building's limited use was maintenance
To make it suitable for a public works facility, the building was renovated and
expanded in some areas.
"It is about 10 times bigger than where we were," Fagg said. "We
added on about 17,000 square feet, mainly to park our vehicles under."
Space was not the only
issue at the former building.
"We didn't have heating," Fagg said. "It was a block building.
There was no space to park vehicles. Everything had to be left outside in the weather. You can leave
tractors outside, but we needed a place to put mowers and garbage trucks with packers. They
shouldn't be out in the weather."
The plan initially was to find land to purchase and build
the facility new. "We had drawn up what we were going to do, but then we got to thinking about
remodeling this building," Fagg said. Remodeling started last summer.
"We're 95 percent
complete, except for paving, which will start next spring," he said. "We have so much room - about
25,000 square feet compared to 3,000 square feet at the other facility."
Construction of Maryville was contractor for the job. The addition was an extension of 24 feet to
the garage space to allow room to get fire trucks and large trucks inside for work. Skylights
were added to provide natural light for working.
Bright, fresh spaces in the building include
a large break room, a locker room for uniforms with lockers painted UT orange and office spaces.
There's still some work to complete inside. One office needs carpet replaced and a paint job. The
computer system now is more up-to-date, Fagg said. The building has 1,200 feet of storage
"I think this building will last a long, long time," he said.
A furnace system
that burns used motor oil was installed in a garage bay. A system of fans circulates heat through
The most difficult part of the project, according to Fagg, was cleaning out
45 years of accumulated "stuff" in the building.
"I never imagined it would take so much time
moving. There were old car parts they thought we might need, you name it," he said.
building is completely finished, furnished and company-ready, the city plans to hold an open
house/dedication, possibly in May.