​Monteagle Grapples With Need for Road Repair

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Lobbying for much needed road repair on Laurel Lake Drive, more than 50 residents attended the Jan. 28 Monteagle City Council meeting.
Laurel Lake Drive residents complained about potholes causing damage to vehicles and no shoulder on much of the road where crumbling road edges significantly narrowed the driving surface. Also troubling, in places resurfaced segments of the road abruptly rejoin unresurfaced segments with as much as a two-feet difference in the width of the roadway.
Another particularly dangerous concern is an area where water stands in the road. “Drivers need to cross the center line at a blind curve to get past it,” said Laurel Lake Drive resident Jessica Favaloro. “Someone is going to get killed.”
Twice since late 2018, Laurel Lake Drive has been closed due to washout of the road surface at an area where a culvert becomes blocked with debris and the water cannot flow into Laurel Lake.
“Water is rushing through the big rocks and washing away the crusher run gravel there,” acknowledged Monteagle Utility Manager John Condra.
Alderman Tony Gilliam suggested there should have been a bridge at that section of the road and proposed the section needed reengineering. “There’s nothing we can do right now with the type of weather we’re having.
Mayor David Sampley promised Laurel Lake Drive residents when the new budget allocation for paving was drawn up in June, “We’ll put you ahead of everybody else. The other worst case scenarios have been taken care of.”
Marion County does road repair for Monteagle with the town paying for materials. Sampley said he would contact the Marion County road superintendant and get an estimate on the cost.
In regular business, the council elected Gilliam vice mayor. The city charter states the council should elect a vice mayor from among the alderpersons. The council had been operating under the convention of the previous mayoral administration, appointing as vice mayor the alderperson who received the most votes in the election held the year the mayor was elected. Jessica Blalock acted as vice mayor since November of 2016.
The council also voted to amend the Beer Permit ordinance to bring it in line with state law. Two years ago the state amended the law applying to beer sales at markets and grocery stores allowing 8 percent alcohol by weight and 10.1 percent alcohol by volume. Monteagle’s unrevised ordinance capped the by volume alcohol limit at 5 percent by weight.
The Pilot Travel Center contacted city recorder Debbie Taylor about the discrepancy. “Pilot wanted to be legal, so they were pulling the higher alcohol content beer off the shelves,” she said.
In another state law related issue, the council voted to opt out of paying for city employees’ health insurance after retirement. The cost would have far exceeded the town’s limited resources from occupancy tax, gasoline tax and sales tax. Monteagle does not levy an income tax.
Addressing excavation costs incurred by the Clifftops gated community to investigate the cause of surface water bubbling up onto the road, the council concurred with Condra’s recommendation to reimburse Clifftops for the $4,797 expense.
“I think it’s only right,” Condra said. The water source turned out to be a leaking, no longer used city water system valve. The Monteagle water department removed the valve and repaired the line.
The council allocated $1,050 to pay for a DJ at the monthly Cruise-In events held from April through September.
The council will begin meeting for monthly workshops, time and date to be announced. The next regular council meeting is Feb. 25.