The Chattanooga Red Wolves professional soccer team may be coming to East Ridge.
In Thursday night’s Agenda Session of the East Ridge City Council meeting, Red Wolves owner Bob Martino told the council that he wants to enter into a public/private partnership with the city to build a practice facility near the existing Weldon Osborne Stadium in Camp Jordan Park. The facility would include upgrading the field and adding a second field, locker rooms for players, coaches offices and merchandising area.
Martino said that Camp Jordan “is an amazing facility,” and that the Red Wolves’s new training facility could attract state high school championships and host major regional amateur soccer events. The soccer complex would bring more visitors to East Ridge who would stay in local motels and dine in the city’s restaurants. Martino said that his organization would shoulder the cost of building the new structures and stands. He said the new facility would be utilized by his team and high-level amateur events pretty much year round.
Councilman Mike Chauncey asked how much the stadium is currently used. Acting City Manager Kenny Custer said it was used primarily by the high school soccer team for home games, prompting Vice Mayor Esther Helton to comment that the stadium is “under-used, really.”
The Red Wolves will begin play next year as part of USL League One. Mr. Martino said it is unclear where they will play their home matches. The team said earlier it would first play at the Chattanooga Christian School field before building its own stadium.
Camp Jordan is poised to experience major upgrades this year. The council approved two bids on Thursday night relative to upgrading facilities. Integrated Properties was the low bid to upgrade existing restrooms and concession stands and build additional restrooms and concession facilities. Parks and Recreation Director Adam Wilson told the council that he performed significant value engineering on the project which cut about $175,000 from the $1.33 million bid. The money for the project will come from a $2.3 million bond issue, officials said.
The council also approved a resolution which will upgrade playing fields at the park. The city will spend $105,000 with River City Athletic Fields to bring in 1,000 tons of infield mix and other products to revamp playing surfaces throughout the park.
The council approved on second reading an ordinance rezoning 6750 Ringgold Road to General Commercial (C-2). The property will become the new home of Southern Honda Powersports.
The council approved the rezoning of 730 Frawley Rd. to C-2. A new Marriott hotel and water park will be built on the site.
The council approved the spending of $725,000 on a new 180-foot tall communications tower for the fire and police departments. It will be built on city property behind City Hall. Officials said the new tower will eliminate “dead spots” that public safety officials have experienced in the past.
The council voted to spend $30,000 with CTI Engineering to make stormwater improvements on South Seminole Drive, Boyd Street and the 700 block of Stateline Road.
Mayor Brian Williams reappointed Casey Tuggle to the East Ridge Planning Commission. In a procedural move, Councilman Chauncey resigned from the planning commission and was then reappointed by council. City Attorney Mark Litchford explained that under current City Code, the mayor or his designee, is reserved a spot on the board. Mayor Williams designated former City Manager J. Scott Miller to serve on the planning commission.
Councilman Chauncey appointed Cathy Cook to the East Ridge Library Board. Vice Mayor Esther Helton reappointed Mary Lambert to the board.
Zach Hutcherson with the accounting firm Hutcherson, Henderson & McCullough presented the 2017-18 audit to the council. Hutcherson reported that the city has $5.2 million in its surplus fund. The city’s “net position,” he said, has increased with the addition of new capital assets. He noted a slight decrease in the solid waste fund and stated that other funds are “relatively stable.” Hutcherson said the audit went very well and there was a “clean audit opinion.”
As is its tradition during the holidays, the council voted to cancel the second meeting of December which was scheduled for Dec. 27.