Marilyn Campbell Rodman: Passing the Baton to the Future

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of interviews with some of the local candidates running for office. Federal & State General Elections, and Muncipal Election voting is Nov. 8.

Mayoral candidate Marilyn Campbell Rodman will bring six years of experience to the office of mayor if reelected, two years with the present administration and four prior years of service, 2012-2016. Rodman has lived in Monteagle 30 years. In addition to her terms as mayor, Rodman served two years on the council as an alderperson and has 28-years experience as a businesswoman, as the publisher and editor of the Cumberland View newspaper.

“Every day brings opportunities and challenges,” Rodman said. During her first tenure as mayor, she administered $4.5 million in grant money. The town grew 33 percent, implemented its first electrical vehicle charging site, brought the sewer plant online, and contributed $65,000 toward completion of the five-miles of the Mountain Goat Trail between Sewanee and Monteagle. The town also drafted a Monteagle 2020 plan supported by a $285,000 grant, with a small 5 percent match, that would have expanded sidewalks and lighting, but the grant and plan were both abandoned by the subsequent administration.

During Rodman’s present term she administered $500,000 ($.5 million) in grant money. The town conducted water and sewer capacity studies and plans additional studies this fall to determine inflow and infiltration of stormwater into the sanitary sewer and aid in identifying grants to address the problem. The town also instituted GIS mapping of streets, storm water drains, and water and sewer lines to boost the town’s eligibility for American Recovery Plan grant money. Twenty new businesses came to town and two new motel franchises will open. The town raised $110,000 for purchase of a fire truck, hired a full-time fire chief, and now has seven police officers.

Looking to the immediate future, Monteagle is working with the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) on a flood control ordinance for both commercial and residential property. The 3.5 inches of rainfall at the end of July was “unusual,” Rodman said, and impacted several areas of town in addition to the RBT/Petro truck stop site bordering Sampley Street and Dixie Lee Avenue.

Rodman favors considering review of building permits not acted on in a year. “Things change in a year,” she observed, although noting inability to acquire materials could cause unavoidable delays.

Asked about stormwater treatment at the RBT/Petro project, Rodman said, according to building inspector Earl Geary, the building permit for the building had been approved, but not the permit for the parking lot, garages, and other components of the site. Permitting would require architectural drawings by a structural engineer and would necessitate including both detention pond and oil/water separators for stormwater treatment to satisfy EPA and TDEC regulations.

Rodman pointed out the “Petro project was a reality before this council was elected.” The property sold as zoned commercial, and the planning commission negotiated with the developers on the site plan. When confronted with the zoning map problem, her administration consulted with the city attorney, insurance company, and MTAS. “We did as we were advised,” Rodman said, “and made decisions based on what we were handed.”

Plans call for hiring an architect to help craft a Monteagle 2035 land-use plan to guide future growth. Rodman also anticipates working with TDOT to bring the Mountain Goat Trail across the new bridge planned for I-24 Exit 134 and will encourage a traffic study to determine if a traffic light is needed.

“I’m asking not just for myself, but for my team [of alderpersons] to be brought back,” Rodman insisted. “There are a lot of good things we need to finish. We’ll have a plan we can hand over to the next generation.”

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