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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kingsport BMA OKs first phase of work at V.O. Dobbins

Demolition work is expected to begin in February and take approximately 60 days to complete.



KINGSPORT — Only days after "The Last Great Program at Douglass" brought the Riverview Community together to say a final goodbye to the Historic Douglass School Auditorium and building, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen took action to beging the first phase of the V.O. Dobbins Community Center renovations.

Kingsport plans to expand and renovate V.O. Dobbins, adding approximately 50,000 square feet of space — nearly 28,000 of which will be a new nonprofit wing. The first phase of the project is the demolition of the auditorium — the site of the new nonprofit wing.
The BMA voted 4-1 to appropriate $365,770 for work at V.O. Dobbins, including the demolition of the auditorium and James Street, the construction of a new mechanical room, and temporary HVAC units for the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency’s office.

Alderman Ken Marsh voted against the appropriation, again saying the scope of the project had grown beyond its original intent.
“I’m appalled at how this project has gotten beyond the good intentions and reasonable scope, and I’m dismayed we’re spending $8 million on a project that started at $5 million to compete with the free market system, in moving nonprofits who are renting space in the private sector to the public sector,” Marsh said. “I’m opposed to the situation of project creep that has brought this situation up to the tune of $2 million.”
Alderman Pat Shull voted for the appropriation.
“I’ve voted with Alderman Marsh at least twice that the project was not the original scope. Why I voted ‘aye’ this time was because it was a decided matter,” Shull said. “For me, I voted to give the OK for staff on how they identified the scope of the demolition, but I support Marsh in the original objection.”

In October, Marsh and Shull voted against a $480,000 contract with architects for the project, and in November Shull voted against a $7.15 million bond issuance for the V.O. Dobbins project.
The demolition work is expected to begin in February and take about 60 days to complete. The renovation and expansion phase of the project is scheduled to begin in March or April.