Members of the Carter County Highway Committee heard recommendations on resolving drainage and flooding issues in the Biltmore community during their latest meeting. The committee received a report from representatives of the engineering firm of Tysinger, Hampton and Partners at a Monday morning meeting at the highway department.
Gary Tysinger and Eugene Coleman of TH&P appeared before the highway committee Monday to provide a report on their suggestions as to the best way to alleviate ongoing flooding and drainage problems experienced by property owners living near the intersection of Hartley Road and Taylor Avenue.
Coleman discussed several of the reasons leading to the drainage concerns. “Right now, there’s an existing ditch that runs along Roosevelt Avenue. There’s a 12-inch culvert there that should pick up most of the water that comes off the drainage area and goes to the natural drainage area,” Coleman commented. He noted there does not appear to be any obvious issues that are leading to the problem of standing water for property owners.
Coleman also stated one of the property owners living across the street from Shane Tester filled in one of the drainage ditches located along his property. He said that may be leading to some of the issues with ponding water in the neighborhood. Coleman suggested that the catch basin be opened to allow water to flow along the natural topography of the land.
A second issue leading to water drainage problems for Harvey Tester, one of the property owners in the Biltmore subdivision, was raised by Coleman. He said water coming across Cunningham Road has been leading to chronic flooding conditions on Tester’s property. Using a topographical map of the area, Coleman said TH&P recommends that the Carter County Highway Department rebuild the intersection of Taylor Avenue and Cunningham Road to create a crowning in the road. He stated that would direct the water to an existing drainage ditch on the eastern side of Taylor Avenue. “It would create a valley to direct the water to the side of the road where the ditch is present,” Coleman said.
County Commissioner Charles Von Cannon, a member of the highway committee, stated that he did not see any provisions in the TH&P plan to assist William Harry Cable with drainage concerns. “Mr. Cable hasn’t had as many problems, but he has had very similar problems. The only difference is that his water issues are coming off Hartley Road,” said Von Cannon.
Cable, who appeared at Monday’s meeting, owns a home along Hartley Road. He said he has attempted to have the highway department install a curb to assist with the drainage problems. Cable explained, “I would be tickled to death if they did that. It would help out tremendously with my problems.”
Cable also stated one of the biggest issues with drainage problems in the subdivision has to do with property owners filling in drainage ditches along the county’s right-of-way. The highway committee has discussed the problem of homeowners filling in drainage culverts in the Biltmore community and other areas of Carter County.
TH&P will appear before the Carter County Highway Committee at their next meeting on Monday, Aug. 13 with a final report which will include specific recommendations for Highway Superintendent Jack Perkins, along with an estimate on the cost of completing the repair work in the Biltmore subdivision.
In other business, the highway committee agreed to a compromise decision on the naming of a Roan Mountain bridge along Highway 143. In June, the committee approved a motion to name the bridge entering Roan Mountain State Park after Carroll Boone. Boone, who worked for the Tennessee Department of Transportation for numerous years, is a well-known and respected individual in the Carter County community. The motion to name the bridge in his honor was brought to the committee by County Commissioner Richard Winters. He explained that a petition had been circulated in the community asking for Boone’s name to be placed on the bridge.
After the highway committee unanimously approved Winters’ request, the matter came before the full commission at their June 18 meeting. During the discussion on the issue, County Commissioner Nancy Brown, who also represents the Roan Mountain area, said a second petition had also been distributed in the community to name the bridge in honor of the late Jack Barnett. Brown said the petition had accumulated nearly 500 signatures.
Upon hearing of the second petition, the full commission voted to send the question back to the highway committee to find a potential compromise. Winters said he had not spoken to the Boone or the Barnett families about an acceptable compromise. He added, however, there are several other bridges in the area that could be named in honor of Mr. Barnett.
When he first brought the motion before the highway committee, Winters said he was not aware of any community sentiment to name the bridge after Barnett. He noted, “Mr. Barnett was an honorable man and a worthy citizen who is certainly deserving of recognition. I brought the matter to name the bridge in honor of Mr. Boone after I was approached by the family to do so. There was never any intention to slight Mr. Barnett.”
Winters explained that the highway committee and the full commission followed the proper procedures already in place to name the bridge in Boone’s honor. He said he believed the commission was obligated to move forward with the committee’s decision to name the Highway 143 bridge after Mr. Boone.
Brown, who was also in attendance at Monday’s meeting, was joined by Barnett’s son, Justin. The 2nd District County Commissioner said she and the Barnett family were not aware of the effort to name the bridge after Boone was underway until it was reported in the media. “I have 462 signatures from residents right there in Roan Mountain that would respectfully ask you to name the bridge after (Barnett),” Brown noted. “He had a store above (Roan Mountain) park for years. This man represented the community very well. He was a good neighbor to everybody.”
Barnett also addressed the committee regarding the petition. He added, “I’m not saying anything bad against Mr. Boone. But my dad owned the property above the bridge until the state paid him for it. His roots were right there. This petition is coming from the people in our community. The people came to me to ask this be presented to the county.”
The committee approved a motion to name the bridge in honor of both men after Barnett’s son said he did not object to the decision. The cost of purchasing the $350 signs for the effort will be paid for by both families. The motion will now go back before the county commission at their July 16 meeting at the county courthouse.
Von Cannon, who has voiced his concerns about the county’s procedures for naming bridges in honor of county residents, argued in favor of creating a special committee to analyze such decisions. He said that would allow the commission to look at each individual’s accomplishments and their impact upon the community before a decision is made. “I don’t know what the final answer is, but I don’t believe making a decision on which individual approaches us first is the right way to go,” Von Cannon said.