MT. JULIET -- Mt. Juliet City Commission renewed City Manager Kenny Martin’s contract Monday night and authorized him to facilitate construction of a new sidewalk that will make it safer for students to walk to and from Mt. Juliet High School on Golden Bear Gateway.
The sidewalk ordinance, which was sponsored by District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice, involved accepting $25,000 from Wilson County Schools and approving the use of an additional $15,000 in city funds.
Justice said he has also brokered an agreement with Stone Hollow developers and engineer Rob Porter of Civil Site Designs to provide in-kind services and materials to complete the project.
“We want it done in a month,” Justice said, adding that the developers have already started on the portion which is in neighboring Stone Hollow subdivision. “And Tuscan Gardens has funds to extend the sidewalk to the 3-way where their development comes into Golden Bear Gateway,” Justice added.
The sidewalk is in the same place that the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) applied earlier for a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) grant to build a sidewalk.
That grant would have been for $81,557.98. The City Commission voted in May to provide 20 percent in matching funds, totaling $20,389.49, for an overall project cost of $101,947.47.
District 3 Commissioner and BPAC Chair Art Giles asked Monday night if the funds from the schools could be used to match grant funds.
Newly-hired Assistant City Engineer Andy Barlow said that could be done. But he added that assuming the city received the MPO grant, the timeline would be 12 to 18 months before a sidewalk could be built.
Then Justice said the school board members said they wanted the project done quickly and if it couldn’t be, they would take the money back.
Giles said there seemed to be a communication problem, since BPAC had already applied for the grant. But Justice said he had been working on the sidewalk before BPAC was even formed, and it was in his district.
The sidewalk would run along the east side of Golden Bear Gateway, where a guard rail currently forces students to walk in the roadway, in a traffic lane, on their way to and from school.
In the end, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve accepting the money from the school system and to build the sidewalk, and they struck out the additional $15,000 after City Finance Officer John Rossmaier assured them that those funds were already in the budget.
Far less discussion went into the unanimous rehiring of Kenny Martin as city manager on a two-year contract. District 4 Commissioner Jim Bradshaw did say the contract is a standard one and that it involves no raises except for the cost-of-living increases that all city employees are receiving.
Martin, in accepting the renewed position, noted that the city charter requires the city manager to have a contract and that he understands that he serves at the pleasure of the commissioners and the voters who elect them.
At the suggestion of Mayor Ed Hagerty, the commission agreed to split its decision on the Mt. Juliet Commons section of the proposed Nichols Vale subdivision on the city’s north side.
The commission agreed to allow the Mt. Juliet Commons section to be built with the existing 40-foot-wide section of right-of-way instead of widening that to 50 feet, as it will be in the rest of the subdivision.
The second request by the developers, to start building the townhouses planned in Mt. Juliet Commons before completing the construction road into the subdivision from Lebanon Road, was deferred at the builders’ request after the mayor, Giles and Bradshaw all opposed the plan.
A proposed ordinance to increase the funds allocated for organizations requesting grants from $100,395 to $104,103.81, sponsored by Bradshaw, was voted down 3-1 with Bradshaw voting for the change and Justice temporarily out of the room. Hagerty, who seconded the motion to allow it to be discussed, cast one of the “no” votes.
The commission has not yet decided how to allocate the funds in this line item of the new city budget, discussion revealed.
A resolution to request the State of Tennessee to restripe and widen the Mt. Juliet Road Bridge over I-40 and to widen South Mt. Juliet Road to Central Pike, also sponsored by Bradshaw, failed for lack of a second. When Bradshaw asked for an explanation, Hagerty said passing a similar resolution had already been tried, and the state said the city had to perform a traffic study first to receive an answer.
A set of traffic studies of the I-40 Bridge area, to be performed for the city by the Corradino Group, was recently authorized by the City Commission.
On the other hand, the commissioners were unanimous in approving the second reading of an amended ordinance allowing hotels and motels with 70 or more rooms to sell beer for consumption on the premises, even if they don’t sell food as well.
Until now, the city’s beer-license ordinance called for all holders of beer licenses to sell $5 worth of food for every $1 worth of beer they sell. The commissioners made the change in the ordinance as part of the city’s attempt to recruit a major national hotel chain to Mt. Juliet – an ongoing effort that prompted the city to lower its hotel/motel occupancy tax earlier this year.
The commissioners also unanimously approved, on first reading, the rezoning from Residential Single-Family (RS-40) to Commercial Town Center (CTC) of 1.3 acres owned by Walter Fuqua and Jennifer Perry at the corner of North Mt. Juliet Road and Cross Drive.
In other action, the commissioners unanimously passed resolutions:
To execute contracts with Water Management Services, LLC, for construction-related engineering for sewer projects in the South Mt. Juliet Road/Central Pike area and the Highway 70/Cedar Creek area.
To authorize the mayor to sign the letter hiring Yeary, Howell and Associates to audit the city’s finances for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
To accept a sewer easement from Bobby Capers Jr.
Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at email@example.com.