NEWPORT—The City of Newport’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to create the Department of Community Development for the City of Newport and they named Gary Carver to serve as director of the department on Tuesday evening, during the City Council’s monthly meeting.
City Administrator James Finchum told council members that the City of Newport has experienced an influx of challenges when dealing with blighted buildings and unkept property throughout city limits.
With the West Highway 25/70 corridor development plan being one meeting away from potentially getting approved, Finchum felt that proposing this newly formed department could ease the problems and also help Newport move forward with future development.
“It’s something that is done in other places and I think it’ll work very well for us.” Finchum stated. “My goal here is not make up a job for someone or give a promotion. It’s to try to make us more efficient and get this job done.”
According to Finchum, Carver will serve as the director and there will be a new Codes Enforcement Officer position added that will work under Carver’s supervision along with current Building and Codes Official Mark Robinson.
“I’m thankful to Mr. Finchum and the Council for having the faith to trust me with this responsibility. It will be a challenge and there is plenty of work ahead for us, but it’s a direction that our city needs to go in if it wants to improve and grow.” Carver stated.
“We’re going to be building the department from the ground up. Creating policies and operational procedures will be our first step. We’ll use other cities that have had success with community development services as a guide. We will find a good mesh of things that will work for Newport and toss out the things that won’t.”
With City Council’s approval, Carver’s new position will begin Monday, Aug. 19. The City of Newport will also begin taking applications for the Codes Enforcement Officer.
The City Council also heard an update from John Houghton, a civil engineer with Gresham Smith who has been working closely with the City of Newport, for the redevelopment plan on West Highway 25/70 near Interstate 40.
Houghton told council members that his firm along with Carver will begin drafting the final plan for the redevelopment. Houghton said if the council approves the plan, they could explore a corridor management agreement that would help with properties that aren’t annexed through the city.
City of Newport Attorney Terry Hurst asked Houghton if CLB was involved.
7th District Commissioner Forrest Clevenger, who was present during the meeting, answered Hurst’s question by saying the CLB is not involved but they would like to be.
In other business items addressed, Finchum announced that the City of Newport was awarded another grant for the construction of new river walk sections behind Newport City Hall. James said the grant will fund the portion of the river walk that has already been seen by an engineer.
Finchum then commended Carver for the work he’s done applying for grants.
“He (Carver) is the guru of grant writers.” James stated. “He’s done a fantastic job applying for grants and he’s getting a lot done and saving the tax payers a lot of money.”
Finchum also told council members that he has received a letter from the State of Tennessee Comptroller’s Office approving the City of Newport’s budget for 2019-2020.
The council granted their approval to allow the Chamber of Commerce to hold a car show in the City Hall parking lot during the Newport Street Festival and they accepted bids for the Newport Fire Department to purchase a truck for Jeremy Shelton.