Today is Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MJ's gains and growing pains

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MT. JULIET -- A rising tide lifts all boats – but sometimes, it also floods the wharf.

The fact that Mt Juliet is growing rapidly cannot be denied, but whether the infrastructure problems connected to that growth are being dealt with will be an issue addressed at the next City Commission meeting.

Growth is good in the sense that it means new jobs and more interesting things to do and places to go in town, according to City Manager Kenny Martin.

“It wasn’t long ago we had to drive to Rivergate in Nashville to shop,” Martin said. “Now shopping is only 5 minutes away.”

And residents don’t have to drive halfway across the state to go to Gander Mtn., either.

Gander Mtn. and the many other new businesses in Mt. Juliet also provide needed jobs for the city. Newly-opened Hollister Medical, for example, created 200 new jobs.

And according to Martin, at last count more than half of the residents of Mt. Juliet are currently driving to Nashville or other towns to work.

“If we can add good-paying jobs in Mt. Juliet, those folks can add an extra hour or 2 to their day to enjoy their homes and families,” Martin pointed out. “Growth brings jobs – white-collar jobs and stores.”

He also said he is working with two businesses that are looking to build 2-million- and 3-million-square-foot warehousing facilities that could employ as many as 2,000 people at jobs with pay ranging from $11 per hour up to $50 or $60 per hour.

Plus, Martin noted, another advantage of creating jobs in Mt. Juliet is that people tend to eat and shop where they work.

“More people in town in the daytime means they spend more money in town,” he said.

Some of the new businesses in Mt. Juliet are large, but smaller new businesses add jobs, too, Martin pointed out. In recent weeks, Lee Heat and Air, The Mattress Firm and two different tire discount stores have opened in the Providence area.

Martin said he expects to know by July if a new full-service hotel will be coming to town.

Along Lebanon Road, growth is a little slower, but a new “meat-and-three restaurant,” a Speedway and Vintage Wine & Spirits are scheduled there, and the builders of Nichols Vale subdivision plan to start work on the first townhomes going up by September in the new North Mt. Juliet development.

The other advantage of attracting good jobs to Mt. Juliet, Martin said, is that young people won’t be moving away for jobs.

“When our kids graduate, we want them to live near us,” he said. “We want our family to stay here and be able to work here.”

A new car dealership, Premier Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep, was just approved to locate on Old Pleasant Grove Road by both the Planning and City Commissions, as were the plans of Beckwith Farms West to build five new industrial/warehouse buildings ranging from 450,000 to 1 million square feet on 261 acres between Eastgate Boulevard and Hunting Hills Drive.

Planet Fitness will be leasing space in The Valley Center shopping center at 1315 North Mt. Juliet Road, next to where the YMCA is now, although the Y won’t be renewing its lease in the center.

Also coming soon, Martin said, are a Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop, Kirkland’s Home Décor, a Fuji Japanese Steakhouse, Sukka Deli, Fleet Feet Sports, Primrose School, Robinson Crossing, Active Life Chiropractic, The Dog Spot, Deede’s Hallmark at Providence MarketPlace, Chuck E Cheese, Ceva Bldg. 2, Graves Crossing and Paul Mitchell School-Mt. Juliet Campus have also recently decided to locate in Mt. Juliet.

Also, three new apartment complexes – Glass Creek, Providence Central and Lifestyles – are being built, and 143 single-family house permits have been issued.

 Growth also means increased income for the city, both from sales tax and from the property tax, which is specifically earmarked for emergency services.

The down side is that the city is struggling to create and maintain the infrastructure needed to support the growth.

The city Police Department has started moving into its new offices into the former Joy Church building on Charlie Daniels Parkway, purchased and remodeled at a cost to the city of about $2 million.

The Fire Department is not a year old, but the newest city budget includes about $300,000 to expand it.

Sewer improvements planned for the upcoming year include upgrading the Nonaville Road pump station for a cost of $150,000, so part of the heavy increased load on the sewer system is being worked out.

But as District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice pointed out this past Monday, the streets are seriously overcrowded by the current traffic.

He asked for an ordinance calling for an indefinite moratorium on new construction to be placed on the agenda for the next City Commission meeting on July 14.  The moratorium would remain in effect until the traffic issues are resolved.

Correspondent Connie Esh may be contacted at cewrites@yahoo.com.

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growth, jobs, Mt. Juliet, shopping
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