Mayor Berke urges U.S. Corps of Engineers to take action on dila - WSMV Channel 4

Mayor Berke urges U.S. Corps of Engineers to take action on dilapidated barge

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke is urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take action against the owner of a dilapidated barge floating on the Tennessee River.

You have probably seen the barge. It sits across from the Tennessee Aquarium, docked at a vacant lot along Manufacturer's Road.

The barge has been floating there for the past four years. The owner, Allen Casey, has the vision of turning it into a restaurant. But Mayor Berke says the city has been patient, long enough.

"This is a problem property. It looks bad. It hurts the neighbors. It is dangerous and it needs to move," says Mayor Andy Berke.

Mayor Berke wrote a strongly-worded letter to the Army Corps of Engineers saying allowing Allen Casey's barge to float along the city's pristine riverfront is "unacceptable to our community."

"I always want to give people the opportunity to do the right thing. Unfortunately, this property has been around for years with no progress. It's time to move," says Berke.

The permit from the Corps, allowing the barge to be moored along the banks, has been suspended since May 15th. Casey has not been holding up his end of the deal to fully revamp the structure. Debris and graffiti have been removed but locals and visitors alike say it is an eyesore.

"It kind of looks scary over there," says Ashley Brude of Apison.

Brude and her family say the barge takes away from the surrounding beauty of the downtown riverfront.

"They've been trying to make this whole area look better in the past 10 years since I've been here. I think it doesn't look too good," says Aaron Brude.

"Obviously a lot of people come here for the scenery, and to enjoy the views. So I can understand why residents would want it cleaned up," says Emanuel Butler, visiting from Atlanta.

"We have hundreds of millions of dollars in private and public investment along our waterfront. When one person doesn't keep up his property, it hurts everyone around," says Berke.

We reached out to Allen Casey by phone, with no response. Berke says he is confident the Corps will take the appropriate action.

"I expect the Corp to complete their process. My hope is that they enforce their rules and make him move."

Mayor Berke says he has not gotten an official response from the Army Corps of Engineers. His letter comes on the heels of U.S. Senator Bob Corker sending a similar letter in May.

When Channel 3 has spoken to Casey in the past, he says the main hiccup for completing his vision is financing.

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