The Morristown City Council on Tuesday continued its phased outfitting of the new public works department, which is located in West Morristown south of the Merchants Greene development and is schedule to open no later than April.

One improvement, once taken off the table during preconstruction cost-cutting – enhanced landscaping and a screened security fence – is back in the plan at a cost of $80,000. The screening element will be vinyl slats woven through a chain-link fence instead of the cheaper opaque fabric screen.

Also during the cost-cutting planning phase, councilmembers chose to acquire furnishings and hardware for the public works building by themselves rather than having the contractor buy the items. On Tuesday, councilmembers agreed to pay no more than $101,600 for storage compartments for the public works garage.

At the last council meeting, city government agreed to pay about $110,000 for office furnishings.

In a purchase that involved the contractor, councilmembers authorized spending $53,600 for low-voltage telecommunications cable.

Also Tuesday, the council gave its preliminary approval to an initiative that would allow vertical display signs on businesses in the downtown Main Street corridor. The signs cannot exceed 32 square feet or extend more than 4 feet from the buildings. A public hearing and final vote are scheduled for the March 3 council meeting.

Not all businesses along Main Street will be able to erect these types of signs for two reasons. The signs must be at least 7 feet, 6 inches above both the street and the skywalks. The skywalks make erecting signs impossible for street-level businesses. The proposed rules prohibit signs that extend above the roofline, so businesses in two-story buildings also face limitations.

Councilmembers approved an initiative to use surplus clay from excavation at the East Tennessee Progress Center to both cap a closed cell at the city-county landfill and to prevent erosion along the Exit 4-to-West Andrew Johnson Highway connector, the relocated Highway 66.

In another matter, councilmembers appointed Leah DeCesare to fill the unexpired term of the late Dr. William Rooney on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. The term ends on June 1.