Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Tech Engineering Students To Renovate Whitaker Park

Monterey Aldermen gave four Tennessee Tech students the green light to turn their Proposed Educational Energy Park school project into reality Monday night.

The proposed Whitaker Park renovation would add dozens of features that produce renewable energy. Student Michael Miner said the project would likely take years to complete, but would not cost the town a cent. Miner said items included in the proposal like carousels and seesaws could produce energy through underground generators.

“We actually went through every available plot in Monterey and location-wise, this one made the most sense,” Miner said. “And the fact that it’s already city-owned. So, that would save everybody a lot of time and money without the land acquisition. But, it is a very large space, so we can implement everything we want.”

The proposal also includes features like a solar-powered community greenhouse, a canopy covered with solar panels, and a hydro-powered water mill. Tyree said many of the features send energy to Monterey’s power grid, with children at play as the catalyst.

Student Shanae Tyree said she has built relationships with grant administrators through her work at the Tennessee Tech Center for Engineering Research.

“We’re expecting the whole project to be funded through grants,” Tyree said. “Either potential ones that we already have worked with, that I’ve worked with, or possibly even new ones that Rafferty Cleary’s going to help us get in contact with.”

Tyree said with Whitaker Park so close to Burks Elementary School and Monterey High School, it could be a big step in the Monterey schools putting a greater focus on STEM classes. Miner said once a funding source is nailed down, the rubber can meet the road.

“It’s a relief for sure,” Miner said. “We put a lot of effort into this, so it’s nice to see it pay off. We did have backup plans if we wanted to continue it and it didn’t get accepted, but we’re glad that it got accepted so we can continue the real work now.”

Sahera Abumariam, Carey Wilson, Miner and Tyree are all graduate students at Tech.

In other business, the board passed its budget for the 2025 fiscal year on second reading. Along with the budget, the board passed a tax levy for the coming fiscal year at a three-cent increase.

The board also approved two alleyway closures. Landowners Robert Mclellan and Shirley Bilbrey will have to work with neighbors to create new property lines after the city agreed to abandon the properties and pass it on to the two owners.

McClellan’s alley is some 16 feet wide and runs into a city-owned building, so he agreed to have city attorneys work with him on creating a new property line.