One week after decision to delay vote, local leaders still have concerns about proposed Jonesborough lease


WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – One week after Washington County, Tennessee Commissioners decided to delay a decision on a plan to build a new school in Jonesborough, some are voicing frustration about key components.

As the lease stands, Jonesborough would build the school and athletic facilities while Washington County and the Board of Education will lease to own the school.

“I think it does need to be something done reasonably quick,” said Washington County Commissioner Mike Ford, “but I think we got to make the right decision.”

Ford still has concerns regarding the lease proposal for a new Jonesborough School. Among those, the estimated project cost, the interlocal agreement, Johnson City schools being left out, and the possible length of the agreement.

The agreement can carry a maximum term of 38 years.

“38 years is a long time,” he said, “there’s nobody on that county commission that’s going to be there 38 years from now.”

The new lease revision includes a limit set at $1.5 million for the design fees. The town of Jonesborough would be responsible for anything more than that.

Although Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest said chances of that are remote, he wonders why it is in the agreement.

“We’re a small operation and a provision like that is very risky for our town,” he said.

He is also concerned about the overall project cost, which is now set at $32.5 million, including interest .

Mayor Vest said that would possibly cause the commission to have to meet again in two years to approve another bid.

“Joe had expressed problems with the number $34 million that had been brought back into the equation and that $34 million was something actually he requested,” he said, “and then that night it had become a problem and our question was, ‘why did you ask $34 million to be put in and then in some ways, use that as reason to delay the project?'”

Washington County Mayor Joe Grandy told News Channel 11 he believes they can build with $32 million.

He also emphasized the importance of taking enough time to come to a decision.

“I think we’re really close on just about everything in the lease for the building,” said Grandy. “Now, I don’t know about the facilities lease.”

“Pretty much I’m still up in the air cause I still have a lot of questions that need to be answered,” said Ford.

The next meeting to discuss the Jonesborough school project will be Monday.

It’s possible the Washington County Commission could vote that night whether to move forward or not.

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