​Monteagle Purchases Emergency Access; MGT Approval Pending

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Sept. 30 meeting, the Monteagle City Council voted to purchase a 50 feet by 141 feet right of way on Wells Road to provide emergency access for Laurel Lake residents in the event of flooding. Also top on the agenda, the board agreed to a special called meeting before Oct. 15 to vote on authorizing the Mountain Goat Trail Alliance (MGTA) to apply for a $1 million multi-modal grant on the city’s behalf. “The grant would rehab the old railroad bridge and get the trail across I-24,” said Nate Wilson MGTA board president.

The Wells Road tract cost $10,000. “It will give Laurel Lake residents a road in and out in a disaster,” said Vice Mayor Tony Gilliam. Last February, flooding made Laurel Lake Road impassable. Gilliam thanked James David Oliver for the temporary easement during the flooding which enabled the 90 Laurel Lake residents to reach their homes.

Elaborating on the specifics of the railroad bridge grant, Wilson said the grant would pay for 95 percent of the project with the MGTA funding the remaining 5 percent. In an earlier meeting with the MGTA, Gilliam and City Recorder Debbie Taylor stressed Monteagle lacked operating capital to cash flow the 95 percent portion of the grant, even though the city would be reimbursed for expenses every 30 days. On behalf of the city, the MGTA has appealed to Mountain Valley Bank to draft a proposal to enable Monteagle to participate in the grant opportunity. At the special called meeting, the council will weigh the suitability of the proposal to determine whether to go forward with the grant. The grant application deadline is Oct. 15.

Alderwoman Rebecca Byers asked if the city would be responsible for maintenance of the bridge.

“The bridge will be completely rehabbed as part of the project,” Wilson said. “No one knows who owns it.”

In other business, the council approved a $15,540 bid for a new roof on the post office. The council also approved on first reading an amendment to a city ordinance that would relieve the city of the burden of funding depreciation. “We don’t have the money,” Taylor said.

Fire Chief Mike Holmes reported the fire department received a $99,222 Assistance for Firefighters grant to purchase air packs. The city’s portion is $4,724. Holmes will get bids for the equipment. Delivery will take 45-60 days from purchase.

Alderwoman Jessica Blalock announced Monteagle would host a Halloween parade Oct. 26 beginning at noon at the elementary school. The parade will end at Harton Park. Businesses and citizens are invited to set up tables or do trunk-or-treat to offer goodies.

Asked how the city’s water supply was holding up in the drought conditions, utility manager John Condra said, “We’re alright. We can get down to 7 feet 3 inches.” The lake level was 9 feet 10 inches on Oct. 1. Updating the community on other operations, Condra explained smoke observed coming from the wastewater collection system was due to smoke testing of the sewer lines to check for leaks.

Following the meeting, Gilliam was asked about progress in negotiations to replace an 80-year-old cast iron water service line. At present, the city must leave water running in the service line to a property owned by an LLC to avoid rust, Gilliam said. The city is losing 8,000 gallons of water per day. The city had reached an agreement about replacing the line, Gilliam said, but the Monteagle city attorney recently received a letter from the attorney for the LLC asking for changes.

Gilliam was also asked about leadership of Monteagle’s police department. Gilliam said following the September council meeting where Chief Jack Hill resigned, Hill reconsidered and agreed to accept the chief position.

Editor's Note: There will be a Special Called Meeting of the Monteagle City Council on Monday, Oct. 7, at 4 p.m. in the conference room at City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the Mountain Goat Trail.