IDB chooses engineer to assess potential site
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 8:58 am Jefferson County Standard Banner
By Katey Hopkins – Reporter
Still pushing forward in their pursuit of new county-owned land, Industrial Development Board members came to a decision Friday on an engineering firm to aid in evaluating the 65-acre tract of land that is currently under option.
Three engineering firms gave presentations on what they could offer the project and Jefferson County during Friday’s meeting at the Courthouse in Dandridge. After considering all three, the Industrial Development Board (IDB) unanimously decided to continue the process with Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon, Inc.
Engineers present for the Barge Waggoner (BWSC) presentation were Chris Umberger, project manager, Ed McHugh and Andrew Clark, both civil engineers. The three drew on their previous relationships with Jefferson County and the firm’s successful history to win over the board.
Around three-and-a-half years ago, BWSC did an analysis of three sites for the IDB, and has worked on other projects within the county.
“We would be pleased to continue that relationship and provide additional services for other sites,” Umberger told board members.
Barge Waggoner also has strong local ties to the county. Four of their employees, including Umberger, live in Jefferson County. The firm is also an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and is a contributor to the Building a Better Future program.
“We are stakeholders in the local economy. We’d love to help out and diversify the economy and have some more opportunities for jobs and investment in the community,” Umberger said.
Shifting gears to the firm’s history, Umberger provided the board with a good scope of services that they could offer the IDB. Those services include civil engineering, surveying, Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, landscaping, architectural planning, and industrial design.
The only services BWSC would have to subcontract out would be geotechnical services, which deals with the ground and what lies beneath the site.
BWSC has been in business since 1955 and has a branch located in Knoxville. They have worked on various projects, including the Honda Distribution Center in Loudon County and the industrial park that houses the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.
After the presentation, IDB Chairman Larry Masters posed some question to BWSC. His major concerns were any previous challenges the firm had encountered and how they handled them, communications, the cost to the community, and possibilities of grant applications for additional funding.
Masters also asked how the firm could make this project a benefit for the entire county.
“I don’t want Jefferson County to become basil. What I mean by basil is, everybody puts it in the spaghetti sauce, and nobody tastes it. We don’t want to get lost in the sauce,” Masters said.
Masters also said that he would like to have a reliable contact person, as well as a firm that can respond to this time-sensitive situation in the appropriate manner.
“Since I do live in Dandridge, and I’ve been involved with IDB here for some years, it would be my pleasure to be your principal contact and respond,” Umberger answered.
Following BWSC’s presentation, the board also heard from Cannon & Cannon, Inc. and Littlejohn, Inc. Cannon & Cannon focused on their goal of “continuing the momentum of the Jefferson County IDB.” Also housed in Knoxville, this firm presented a strategic plan to the board and relayed their objective of bringing jobs to the county.
Littlejohn, Inc. is a larger engineering firm with offices in Knoxville, Johnson City, and other Tennessee and national locations. Members present from the firm presented IDB with some of their success stories and noted their interest in building the county’s industrial base.
When it came time for discussion, the board agreed that the final candidate needed to be firm that best understands the community and its needs. Despite all of the firms being capable of the project, board members leaned toward BWSC for their local ties to Jefferson County and previous experience with IDB.
Director of Economic Development Garrett Wagley stated that he believed he would have a good working relationship with any of the firms, and that he had not had any previous problems with BWSC.
After unanimously voting to add this item to the agenda, board member Daryle Keck made the motion to move forward with BWSC, and give negotiation privileges to Masters, Wagley, and Jeffrey Diugnan, IDB Vice-Chairman. Brad Jenkins seconded the motion, and it passed unanimously.
The next step in the process is to negotiate rates with BWSC.
After approving the minutes of the last meeting and the financial report, the board briefly discussed the transfer of a 17-acre tract of land in the current industrial park, which could possibly be developed into nature trails and green space. Wagley noted that county conservation board member Bill Clampitt and others are still evaluating the land.
Regarding other potential industrial properties, Chairman Masters stated that these would be presented at the next meeting of IDB. In the meantime, BWSC will be able to look over the properties for development opportunities.