The Morristown City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night on spending $620,000 in federal money to provide access to sprinkler systems to the upper floors of downtown businesses.
Before the vote was taken, Heather Blackmon Brooks, director of downtown development for the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce, voiced support on the city spending the money on the project, which she said would help with downtown business growth.
“I think this is definitely a need,” she said.
Councilmember Bob Garrett was the only councilperson to vote against the resolution.
The city said the project would be done in three phases with an overall cost of $620,000. The council held a special-called meeting last week to discuss the issue and at that time there was division on whether to spend the money.
Some councilmembers questioned whether downtown business or owners should pay the cost of lines allowing sprinkler system hookups themselves, while other councilmembers said that paying for water lines to enable the hookups would lead to growth of more businesses or residences that could use the top floors of downtown Morristown businesses.
The City Council also unanimously approved proceeding with updating the city and county’s communications system, which is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million.
The city has said the money used for the project would come from federal dollars.
Former state commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security David Purkey is in charge of the project.
The new communications would update the current 911 system and public safety communications system, which is more than 40 years old. Purkey told the council that it was developed and is maintained by Steve Peoples and there’s questions about if Peoples retired if anyone could even work on the system.
The new modernized system would upgrade the system entirely, Purkey said.
“This is a project that will move the city, county and Walters State light years ahead,” he said.
The county has also agreed to partner on the project.
Also, the council voted 7-0 to shut down part of Peavine Alley in downtown Morristown during the month of October. The alley will be used as part of a fall festival display amd pumpkin patch.