RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The push to bring a new regional forensics center to Rutherford County is off to a rocky start.
“I was disappointed, but we aren’t done yet,” said Rutherford County Mayor Joe Carr.
Carr was at the Sept. 7 Budget and Finance Committee meeting, asking for $1 million to fund architectural and design fees for the proposed center.
“(There’s a) burden that is (being) placed on the forensics center in Nashville,” he said. “It services 53 counties in Tennessee and they are kind of locked in, and so we got some challenges here in Rutherford County as a result of that that we need to address.”
For years, county mayors have pushed to make this dream a reality; Carr’s hope is to use 10 acres of land off Weakley Lane in Smyrna to build this center.
News 2 spoke to Carr back in March, who was optimistic after a proposed $21 million in federal funding was offered from Gov. Bill Lee’s office to push things forward.
“We were told quite unexpectedly that we were not on the agenda,” he said. “They had moved in a different direction, so I was surprised and very disappointed, and quite honestly felt mislead.”
However, Carr said that didn’t stop him.
The county’s Public Safety Committee recently added plans to build a new EMS center on the same property, which brought up concerns at Thursday’s meeting.
Other members also questioned funding, but Carr said the county has to make an investment so others can jump on board.
“They are going to partner with you once they know you’re committed,” he said. “We’ve not demonstrated any level of commitment yet, other than a lot of debate and conversation.”
Even though the committee has said no, Carr will continue to fight for this center because he believes it’s something the area needs.
“I wouldn’t spend the time and the energy on something like this if I didn’t think it was absolutely important for Rutherford County,” he said.
According to Carr, county commissioners will vote on approving funding for the architectural and design fees at the Sept. 14 meeting.
He said if they vote yes, the county could discuss how they could fund the center during next year’s budget. If they say no, they would have to start the entire process over.
News 2 reached out to the governor’s office for a response on what happened with the proposed grant funding. His press secretary said they are working to gather information to provide to News 2.