On Thursday, the East Ridge City Council approved a resolution bringing the city one step closer to having professional soccer in Camp Jordan Park.
In a unanimous vote, the council voted to allow the mayor and city manager to negotiate an agreement with the Chattanooga Red Wolves soccer club to create a soccer training facility in the public park.
“I think this is a great opportunity being offered the city,” Mayor Brian Williams said. “The economic development could be amazing.”
City officials said Red Wolves owner Bob Martino wants to build locker rooms, coaches offices, and a merchandising area near the current Weldon Osborne Stadium. A 2,000 seat soccer stadium would also be built, as would an additional soccer field. The Red Wolves investment would be about $1.5 million.
Prior to the vote, City Attorney Mark Litchford explained the intricacies involved in making a public/private development in a city park come to fruition.
When East Ridge acquired the property in the 1970s to create the park, it used grant money from state agencies, he said. That money came with some restrictions, primarily that the park would be for public use. Litchford has been consulting with officials from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the National Park Service (NPS) on getting the use restrictions removed.
Litchford said that in those discussions he was advised by TDEC officials to employ what’s known as “conversion,” which is carving the land to be used by the Red Wolves out of Camp Jordan Park. That process, Litchford said, could take nine to 12 months and come with a $10,000 price tag. In addition, the city would have to acquire additional property to replace the eight to 10 acres being removed from the park. The newly acquired land would be used for public recreation.
City Councilman Mike Chauncey said having the Red Wolves in Camp Jordan would “be a launching pad” for economic development. Visitors to the Red Wolves clinics and soccer tournaments at the facility would fill our hotels and restaurants.
“We’ve missed opportunities in the past,” Chauncey said. “I don’t want to pass this one up.”
Without discussion, the council passed on second reading nine ordinances that update the city’s building codes to 2018 standards. Those codes apply to fire safety, gas, electrical, plumbing, and maintenance of buildings, among others.
The council rejected a plea from the owners of Jack’s Family Restaurant to build a monument sign for its new business on Ringgold Road that did not conform to the city’s existing sign ordinance. Builders were asking for a sign that would be 20 feet in height. The current ordinance allows for signs no higher than nine feet. The vote to deny the waiver was unanimous.
The council approved a resolution raising the rates for renting ball fields at Camp Jordan Park. Adam Wilson, the city’s Director of Parks and Recreation, said the new rates were in line with what is being charged at other area facilities.
The council passed resolutions waiving fees for the Chattanooga Autism Center to use the Community Center for National Autism Day, and for Jones Memorial United Methodist Church to use Raymond James Stadium for a community Easter egg hunt
The council reappointed members of the East Ridge Personnel Board to serve a one year term. Those members are Charles McCullough, Robert Jones, Doris Rogers, Jackie Berry and Colleen Lieberum .
The Council approved giving Spring Creek Elementary School $500 to support its Student Incentives Program.
On Thursday night, the council interviewed Lyndon Bonner, the first of four candidates seeking to become the next East Ridge City Manager.
The council will interview Caryn Miller, David Milliron and Christopher Dorsey in a special called meeting tonight. The interviews begin at 5 p.m. at City Hall. The public is invited to attend.