Does Knox County really need this money?

Sandra ClarkOpinion

A resounding “no” vote is a no-brainer Monday when Knox County Commission considers extending a lease with Lamar Companies for a billboard in the Tank Strickland Park in East Knoxville.


“Oh, Dear Lord,” as the late Shirley Nash-Pitts would say. The county receives just $250/month income from the unsightly advertising structure. And the proposed lease provides for a 10-year term with an automatic 10-year extension at the discretion of the lessee (Lamar), continuation of below-market rent and a requirement that the lessor (Knox County) hack down trees and vegetation that might obstruct a clear view of the billboard.

Commissioner Kyle Ward noted the low rent during the Oct. 18 commission workshop. And Commissioner Dasha Lundy, who represents the district, asked for a vote at the Oct. 25 meeting, rather than putting the item on the commission’s consent agenda. Lundy prevailed. No one spoke in support of the resolution.

Background: The property at 4630 Asheville Highway was acquired through a rare city-county joint venture in the early 2000s. The acquisition removed a blighted commercial area adjacent to the new Burlington Branch Library. The billboard lease had a few years to run, but both Knox County and Lamar, through its Atlanta corporate office, agreed to take down the billboard at the lease’s terminus.

Now no one can find the paperwork on such an agreement.

Nick Della Volpe has filed an affidavit (here) recalling the negotiations. Also, the proposed agreement is here and the lopsided Lamar Advertising lease is here.

Town Hall East Neighborhood Association has both money and sweat equity in the Tank Strickland Park. And the town hall board has unanimously asked that the billboard lease renewal be denied. President Sandra Korbelik says the billboard “is no longer allowed by zoning, nor is it appropriate for an open space use.”

Notes

Knox County school board will start its search for a superintendent in Cookeville. Members are planning lunch at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Longhorn Steakhouse, 1000 Jefferson Ave. S., Cookeville. So, drop on in, y’all.

On the eve of the Republican Super Majority convening a special legislative session Oct. 27 to consider Covid regulations, we have this. I call it “Republican, meet Republican.”

The Tennessee Business Roundtable opposes efforts to either require or prohibit company Covid-19 rules, according to the TN Journal. “The Tennessee Business Roundtable opposes federal or state laws interfering with an employer’s management decisions concerning Covid vaccinations or mask mandates. Employers should be free to run their businesses without unnecessary government interference.”

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.

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