A resolution was scheduled to go before the Portland City Council at its meeting held Monday, Oct. 7 that would see the city apply for Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) funding to build a series of sidewalks and walkways.

The grant, if awarded, would be used to help fund a project connecting Portland City Hall, Richland Park, the Portland Public Library, a local church with a preschool program and the Historic Moye-Green House.

TAP grants are funded at 80% by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), so the city would need to commit the remaining amount toward the project based on the award amount.

That effort coincides with the city's plans for a large-scale renovation of city hall, with bids for the estimated $2 million project set to open at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Although a TAP grant would not be used to fund the city hall renovations, the two projects would pair to give downtown Portland an overhaul.

"We've probably been looking at (the renovations) since I first came here, because we were tight on space," City Finance Director Doug Yoeckel said. "What I always felt like was important was that we could combine a lot of the administrative and utilities into one building. The council chamber can have a meeting without everyone having to stand in the hall if there's an important issue ... (and we'll) have more security, like cutting off certain areas when we're having a meeting so people don't have full access to the building."

The new city hall building will likely have a combination rock and brick front, with strawberry ornaments in the mini-park and gazebo parking lot tied into the landscaping to give the surroundings a consistent look.

Another aspect of the project is expanding parking, both for city business and to coincide with growth in downtown Portland.

"We tried to incorporate getting sufficient parking, having it lit well and directing the flow of traffic around," Yoeckel said. "With the development going on with the event center and Temple Theater, we wanted to accentuate that and provide parking not only for city hall but for those things during the off hours."

As the city waits for numbers from bidders, one major consideration is whether to include a natural gas generator along with the renovations.

"If we end up having an emergency situation, and this place is intact, it will end up giving us an emergency hub to work out of," Mayor Mike Callis said at the council's Sept. 16 meeting. "It's going to be up to money, and we'll know when the bids come back in."

The Portland City Council is set to vote on the bids in a first reading during their meeting on Oct. 21.

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