Monteagle: Critical Fire Department, Water Plant Needs

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the March 21 Monteagle Town Council meeting, the council took up critical fire department expenses and water plant grant applications. The council also received an update on the baseball program and considered an objection to the site-plan approval process.

At the request of Fire Chief Travis Lawyer, the council approved spending $1,500 for the required annual certification of the department’s Cascade System for refilling firefighters’ air tanks; $3,000 for software to track fire department business; and $4,300 for 1,000 feet of 2-inch hose to bring the truck up to ISO standards. The expenses fall within the department’s budget allotment. Lawyer said he had tabled the request for turnout gear for himself, due to delivery delays stretching into December.

“We can’t send a man out without gear,” Mayor Marilyn Campbell Rodman responded, noting Lawyer’s gear was “worn out.” Lawyer will pursue acquiring “get by” gear, possibly used. The council approved up to $2,500 for the purchase. which may require a budget amendment.

City engineer Travis Wilson said he had applied for both a State Revolving Fund (SRF) grant and a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for rehabilitating the town’s water tanks, estimated cost $1.5 million. The SRF grant was more flexible, Wilson said, allowing the funds to be used to purchase a new tank or for water line upgrades. From a financial perspective, however, the CDBG would better serve the town, offering more principal forgiveness. But Wilson stressed the CBGD grant was highly competitive. Alderman Nate Wilson said the town needed to budget for big projects to avoid potentially “catastrophic” consequences.

“When should we work on paying for [the water tank rehabilitation] ourselves?” Alderman Wilson asked. “It will only get more costly.”

“Sooner rather than later,” engineer Wilson replied. He proposed considering a low interest SRF loan with a 20-year payback as a solution, with the town possibly qualifying for some principal forgiveness, as well.

Updating the town on the baseball/softball program, coordinator Dominic Gialdini said 34 players signed up and three teams had formed. When finalized, the schedule will be published on the website, with the first game set for April 4. Volunteers are needed to serve as umpires and work in the concession stand. To help, contact Gialdini through Monteagle City Hall.

Dean Lay, who for the past three months had pursued “minor subdivision” of a tract of land, said the process “needs to be more user friendly.” Town planner Garrett Haynes repeatedly raised issues with the site plan and the related attorney fees had cost the town over $800. “It doesn’t need to be this complicated,” Lay said.

Concurring, Alderman Wilson said on a Mountain Goat Trail site plan, Haynes had asked for things not required by ordinance. “Maybe a solution is to define exactly what goes in a site plan,” Alderman Wilson suggested.

Lay provided the council with a copy of the site plan “checklist” used by Franklin County. Rodman proposed the town consider a checklist as a possible solution to Monteagle site plan issues.

In other business, the council approved the name Monteagle Square for the street officially authorized in February. The name Monteagle Square appeared in 2008 documents when the street used to access the Sonic was first proposed. The street was never officially approved.

Rodman asked the council to consider participating in a state sponsored program to appoint a county-wide parks director. The county and participating towns would share the cost of funding the director position. Rodman also brought to the council’s attention a proposed contract to relocate the electric-vehicle charging stations at city hall to other city-owned sites. The town would receive a share of the proceeds from use of the stations.

The Monteagle Easter Egg Hunt will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 9, at Hannah Pickett Park. A special surprise is planned for the event.

In response to a suggestion at a town hall meeting, the council meeting agenda will be published on the website. The next town hall meeting is scheduled from 5–7 p.m., Tuesday, April 19.

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