JC Commissioners vote to keep red light cameras, close Buffalo Valley golf course


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL)- Red light traffic cameras will be around for years to come in Johnson City. On Thursday night the Johnson City Board of Commissioners made the decision to renew the city’s contract with Redflex, the owner of the cameras.

The contract is set to expire in March next year. Commissioners could have decided to take down the cameras that snap pictures of cars running red light at six intersections in town.

Chief Mark Sirois of the Johnson City Police Department told City Commissioners why he thinks these cameras have a significant impact.

The board approved the cameras back in 2009. The latest contract expires next year, which means if the board planned to back out of the deal they had to make a decision before the end of the year.

Chief Sirois said data shows the cameras are making intersections safer.

“We have increases in traffic crashes overall that we are monitoring, which don’t have cameras,” Chief Sirois said. “But in the intersections that we do have cameras, we don’t have increases. In fact we have a little bit of a downward trend.”

However, the chief admits the cameras aren’t living up to expectations for improving safety.

Johnson City Mayor David Tomita made it clear that he’s not a fan of the cameras or the message they send to people who visit Johnson City.

“I’ve never been a big fan of them and I know you guys think a lot of them and I respect that a lot,” Tomita said. “But it’s one of those things if you look at the community and the message we want to send, is that really what we want to send, because everyone has gotten a ticket in the mail.”

Tomita voted not to renew the red light camera contract. The other commissioners voted in favor of renewal which means the cameras will stay for the next three years.

More than 10,000 drivers recieved citations from red light cameras last year in Johnson City. This year, more than 8,000 citations have been mailed so far.

The commissioners also voted to close a Tri-Cities public golf course.

News Channel 11 reported earlier this week that the days appeared to be numbered for the Buffalo Valley Golf Course.

The municipal course in Unicoi is owned by the city of Johnson City. Johnson City leaders have lost almost two million of dollars on golf in recent years.

Some believe the city only needs one public course and the city has heard a proposal to transform the course into a sports complex.

On Thursday night, the commissioners made the decision to close the golf course for good at the end of the year.

While Johnson City closed a golf course on Thursday, they voted to expand another recreation destination.

The Tannery Knobs Mountain Bike Park near downtown isn’t open yet.

However, Johnson City Commissioners voted to move forward with funding a second phase of the project. Phase one is almost complete. The vote accelerates the process of building trails across the entire mountain. Project leaders are confident this will be a huge impact on the city, with a world class mountain bike park in the heart of downtown.

Commissioners voted to spend more than $430,000 on the expansion. The city hope to open portions of the Tannery Knobs Bike Park by the end of the year.Copyright WJHL 2017. All rights reserved.

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