Here are the prepared remarks Mayor Joe Pitts delivered Tuesday at the annual Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce Power Breakfast.
Good Morning! On behalf of the citizens of our community, it is my pleasure to welcome each of you to this important event, and to our beautiful Wilma Rudolph Events Center here at Liberty Park.
I want to thank the Clarksville Area Chamber for organizing this annual breakfast. This is a great tradition that serves as the kickoff to the New Year, and gives us a chance to share our successes of the past year and our goals for the coming months.
Allow me a moment to recognize some folks in the audience today:
• First Lady Cynthia Pitts
I also want to send out a special thank you to Clarksville Police Department Chief Al Ansley. He announced last week he is retiring in June after more than 33 years with CPD.
And let me point out that we have three new department heads in the city:
• Fire Rescue Chief Freddie Montgomery
• Gas & Water General Manager Mark Riggins
• Clarksville Transit System Director Paul Nelson
And I’ll give a special shout out to our Chief of Staff, James Halford, for his idea about the format of today’s breakfast.
And finally, let me note my friends, Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett and First Lady Mary Durrett. Cynthia and I have grown to love, respect and admire them even more this year. They give this community much to be proud of and I’ll ask you to join me in saying thank you to them.
Also, let me send out my thanks and praise to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces -- especially those from Fort Campbell -- who are working today to protect our country.
Our community is blessed to have a university that is growing, and thriving at a time when most other institutions are static. It is a reflection of President Alisa White and her leadership team, faculty and staff, who have made us proud to be alumni.
As you saw in the video, 2019 was a big year for our community, and with the help of City Department Heads and my colleagues who lead our other governments and key institutions, I was grateful to have a mostly successful first year on the job as Mayor of Clarksville. I learned a lot, and I think we set the stage for more progress and more good things for our community.
Let me share some details about what we’ll be working on this year.
It’s no secret the City’s crowded thoroughfares are one of Clarksville’s pressing issues. I continue to work with the City Street Department, regional planners, and our Finance Department to complete a 2020 Transportation Plan. Next month, I expect to introduce Traffic 2020, a major plan to tackle the City’s most pressing roadway and transportation projects.
Traffic 2020 will show the major Tennessee Department of Transportation projects underway or on the drawing boards, and how City projects will harmonize with the state’s plans. It will include new thoroughfares, improvements to key roadways and intersections, making the addition of sidewalks around schools a priority and other high-pedestrian need areas, and ways to better integrate our roadway structures and the needs of Clarksville Transit Systems buses.
This 2020 Transportation Plan will outline costs and funding options available to pay for major road improvements. Let me pause and say here that the funding for this plan will involve some pain, but we are committed to addressing the Number 1 issue in the Number 1 community in the nation. I will work hard to get citizen engagement and buy-in to this comprehensive plan, which is strategically designed to solve our most pressing transportation challenges.
The plan will include these key transportation projects:
Improvements to Whitfield Road near the 101st Airborne Parkway, Needmore Road and Glen Ellen Elementary School.
Right of way acquisition and design on the Northeast Connector, a major city-built roadway to take traffic pressure off of crowded roads such as Wilma Rudolph Boulevard, the 101st Airborne Division Parkway, and Trenton Road.
Progress on the project to improve Rossview Road, near the Rossview Schools Campus, closest to the schools complex and Interstate 24. This one has had one too many birthdays and we should begin construction later this spring.
Sidewalks in North Clarksville to connect with the project to put new sidewalks on Fort Campbell Boulevard.
Our Parks & Recreation efforts also are important, and we have some things planned to keep Clarksville growing as a place for healthy family activities.
We will move forward with Phase One development of more than 300 acres acquired last year at Exit 8 for a new Clarksville Family Athletic Complex. Phase One, which is being designed, will focus on adding soccer and multipurpose athletic fields for youth leagues. My intent is to have synthetic grass fields for year-round play.
And an inclusive, handicapped accessible playground is being planned for the athletic complex property. Private funding is available to help with the majority of this playground that will accommodate the special needs children and adults in our community.
Work also continues on Clarksville’s quest to complete a 10-mile hiking and biking trail linking the City’s downtown riverfront with Northeast Clarksville.
TDOT announced in August that Clarksville will receive a $1.82 million federal Transportation Alternatives Project grant for construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Red River. Clarksville will be responsible for about $675,000 of the total $2.5 million project, including a 20 percent matching amount and all engineering, design and right-of-way costs.
The project, Red River Trail East Phase 2, provides the final connecting link between the Clarksville Riverwalk and the Clarksville Greenway. It will involve construction of a bridge that will cross the Red River at the site of a former railroad bridge.
The bridge is the final phase of the Red River Trail, which is part of the 1999 Greenways Master Plan. The Red River Trail also includes a connection to the Austin Peay State University campus from the Kraft Street area.
We also will remain focused on our City’s public safety needs. We continue to recruit and train for our Police Department, which has grown by seven new sworn officers this year.
I support building a new Police District 3 Precinct Headquarters near Exit 8, and planning & design on this project is underway.
We also are shifting some existing resources to renovate our Clarksville Fire Rescue headquarters and to expedite a new Fire Rescue vehicle maintenance facility.
We share Mayor Durrett’s excitement about the downtown Multipurpose Events Center project, but City Government also remains committed to strengthening the appeal of downtown as a performing arts and entertainment destination.
Conversations have restarted with The Roxy Regional Theatre about the construction of a new theater and performing arts center on the current site of the Roxy and the adjacent City-owned lots.
We anticipate putting a project design and financing plan in place during fiscal year 2020 using Tax Increment Financing funding and other revenue sources.
Let me emphasize, I am committed to preserving the Roxy as a building, AND an institution.
We also continue to work on key facets of our overall downtown revitalization planning.
Along those lines, I am working with City department leaders to evaluate ways to bring more parking facilities downtown.
I also have asked the Clarksville Transit System leadership to facilitate a new location for the Legion Street bus terminal. We have identified a site and will begin the arduous process of gaining federal approval to relocate the facility. We are also committed to growing CTS and our transportation system, and we know that a larger, more conveniently located downtown Transit Center must be a part of our future.
Other projects that will be getting attention in 2020 include:
This tract may require funding to make some infrastructure improvements along College Street. Sidewalks, street lighting, and other improvements are under consideration and are dependent on the redevelopment proposal if the property is acquired and the City of Clarksville is asked to participate.
We are interested in the highest and best use that will maximize the tax revenue from the more than 32 acre site to offset expenses related to infrastructure improvements.
This old industrial site is a safety and financial liability. But it also provides an opportunity to redevelop and re-energize the Brandon Hills and Red River neighborhoods. We have completed a structural analysis of the building, which indicates some of the structure, about 52,000 square feet may be suitable for redevelopment, while other parts of it are unrecoverable and may need to be demolished.
I also want to thank Planning Director Jeff Tyndall for his work leading the CMC Counts committee, which is working to make sure Clarksville-Montgomery County achieves a complete count in the coming 2020 Census. I urge all of you to get involved with the Census and reach out to your friends, family, churches and workplaces to help us make sure we get everyone counted. This is very important to our community.
These are just a few of the things on our agenda, but let me also emphasize that we are passionate about local business development and building new and existing small businesses.
With that, I’ll wrap up and look forward to taking some of your questions. But I do want to thank each of you for joining with us here today, engaging with your community, and working to build a stronger Clarksville.
Thank you and God bless you.