Jolley’s to donate new park to Morristown

The Morristown parks system is adding a another jewel to its’ already impressive crown thanks to a generous donation, city councilmembers learned at a work session prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

Randall Jolley, along with his mother, Joyce, came before the council and announced plans to build a special needs friendly park at the intersection of Jackson Street and East Morris Boulevard, in the open area across from Fred Miller Park.

The park is being built in memory of Joyce’s husband, Gene Jolley, a philanthropist and community leader, who died in September.

Joyce explained that the idea came from a trip she and Gene took to Virginia Beach about 20 years.

A small special needs park had just been dedicated.

“We were so impressed with that,” she said. “Gene, he liked Morristown moving forward. He just wants Morristown to be the best.”

The park will be all inclusive, open to everyone, but built with people with special needs in mind.

Jolley Park will have bathrooms, paved parking and a shelter.

The Jolley family will build the park and then turn it over, lock, stock and barrel to the city.

“There’s not been a gift to this community like this in a long time,” said Craig Price, parks and recreation director.

Jolley told the council he hoped construction would start this month with work finished by September.

Joyce said she’d been nervous that the council would not be receptive.

“I was ready to give all my pros - and cons - if necessary,” she said.

Instead of a lot of questions, the council and audience erupted into applause after the announcement.

“When they clapped, I was dumb-founded,” she said. “I couldn’t believe my ears.”

City leaders were thrilled with the gift.

“This city could never thank you enough,” said Councilmember Tommy Pedigo.

Also Tuesday, the Morristown City Council took a first step in updating its building and fire codes.

The council voted unanimously on first reading to approve a series of ordinances that would update the rules to the most current ones.

“All the changes are minor in nature,” said Steve Nielson, planning director for the city of Morristown.

Nielson and other local officials first brought the proposed changes to the planning commission on Feb. 2.

He told council members the codes needed to be updated every seven years and the newest codes approved by the state had been published in 2018.

Councilwoman Kay Senter asked for the fire department to speak on the matter since it included fire codes.

Fire Marshal Billy Hale said he had absolutely no problems with it and suggested the changes be made.

“There won’t be a lot of changes to the code, I’ve noticed,” he said.

He said the building inspectors work closely with fire inspectors.

“Building codes and fire codes go hand in hand,” he said.

The council also heard from City Manager Tony Cox about a proposed change at the interchange with state Route 160 and West Andrew Johnson Highway. The council had heard about the possible change by the Tennessee Department of Transportation on Friday during a city workshop.

But, since then many council members stepped away from the idea.

The idea had been to try to redirect access to the McDonald’s and Zoomer’s by building another road into the area and redirecting traffic at another crossing point.

Cox said the cost of the project for the city would be around $350,000.

Council members said they did not like the price tag and told Cox to tell TDOT the city would not be interested.