Erwin next in line for car charging station

Sue Guinn Legg • Nov 12, 2019 at 10:17 PM

ERWIN — The town of Erwin is in line for an electric car charger.

On Tuesday, Erwin Town Recorder Glenn Rosenoff told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussions of the charging station have progressed to an agreement through which Erwin Utilities will provide all the infrastructure and the town will cover the cost of the wattage.

While Rosenoff cited a location for the charging station on Nolichucky Avenue between the Erwin Skate Park and the Unicoi County Library, Mayor Doris Hensley suggested a couple of alternative locations saying, “That area is too prime for us to take up.”

Hensley instead suggested locating the charger in a parking space behind the Town Hall building or at the Erwin Utilities offices on Love Street.

On Hensley’s request, a formal discussion and possible vote on a location for the charger will be placed on the agenda for the board’s next meeting on Nov. 25.

In other business on Tuesday, the board agreed to continue its pursuit of more information before accepting the gift of a historic Clinchfield Railroad caboose.

Holdups on the caboose included Vice Mayor Mark Lafever’s discomfort with taking the caboose “sight unseen,” Hensley’s discomfort with the $8,250 cost of moving the caboose to a site where it can be displayed, and Alderman Rachelle Shurtz’s uncertainty about the condition of the caboose and what it may cost to restore it.

Rosenoff told the board while the caboose has been brought to Erwin and is parked somewhere on the CSX rail yard, the town so far has been unable to determine its exact location or to view it.

The caboose was secured as a gift to Martha Erwin, curator of the sister Unicoi County Heritage Museum and Clinchfield Railroad Museum, who has offered it to the town and provided the approximate cost of moving it to Nolichucky Avenue adjacent to renovated Clinchfield Railroad Depot that serves as the county library.

In discussion of the project, Lafever cited “the money for caboose” alongside what he described as pressing need for an upgrade to the deteriorated sidewalk, curbing and guttering along Nolichucky Avenue.

Lafever also cited the town’s increasing use of that area an alternative location for festivals and other events historically held on Main Avenue. “For safety, if nothing else, this board needs to look at budgeting for some revitalization of Nolichucky Avenue this coming year.”

While conceding the historical significance of the caboose to the town and its railroading history, he said, “I still think we need the numbers. We need to sit down and have a conversation between the city and railroad, and go look at it.”