Plan: Neighborhoods to build sidewalks together with city
Feb. 12--SPRING HILL -- With several sidewalk projects left unfinished, city officials have proposed an idea allowing local neighborhoods to help finish planned walkways.
During a Board of Mayor and Aldermen work session meeting Tuesday, Alderman Chad Whittenburg discussed a "buy-in" program that would let the city and local neighborhoods work together to complete sidewalk projects. He said the city has a limited amount of money to spend on sidewalks, so projects with a 55 percent funding match or more from homeowners associations, neighborhood groups or individuals would be considered first for completion.
To participate in the project, Whittenburg said at least 65 percent of the homeowners whose property abuts the sidewalk would also need to sign a petition asking to participate in the project. He said the city will also rank the necessity of projects based on if they are located near major thoroughfares, schools and greenways to determine which projects to complete first.
City Administrator Victor Lay said the city could opt not to help with projects where certain residents choose not to cooperate.
"The homeowner's association is responsible for the easements, and if a neighbor doesn't agree to the easement, that might knock out that project," Lay said. "The homeowner's associations are taking considerable amount of interest in these projects."
Alderman Amy Wurth said she many neighborhoods -- including her own -- would be willing to provide some financial contributions in order to finish sidewalk projects.
Alderman Susan Zemek said the plan was "a good place to start" for unfinished projects.
Water and Sewer Master Plan
BOMA members were also introduced to representatives of O'Brien and Gere, a consulting firm selected by city staff to aid in the process of creating new water and sewer systems throughout the city. The new water and sewer system has an estimated $1 million price tag and is intended to help expand city growth, particularly eastward toward Interstate 65.
Whittenburg said he wasn't sure if the city should spend so much money on the water and sewer system or hiring a firm to help with the planning as water and sewer is not as "tangible" as other projects like parks, libraries and roads.
Assistant City Administrator Dan Allen said the water and sewer master plan is the most important project for the city.
"We can put in all the roads and get all the access there, but if we don't have water, sewer and other utilities in place that money for expansion is all for naught," he said.
Allen added the city needs to begin now because it takes time to get permits and finish the processes needed to construct a water or sewer system.
Alderman Susan Zemek said planning the system now allows the city to be proactive.
"About 20 years ago when GM and Saturn came in there was no infrastructure, and we found ourselves reacting constantly to the point we never caught up," Zemek said. "I know this is a lot of money, but we need it to get the corporations and the interchange we want."
City Administrator Victor Lay said a consultant is also needed because of how complicated installing water and sewer systems are.
Alderman Eliot Mitchell said Spring Hill doesn't want to wind up like cities such as Mt. Pleasant and Fairview that have been issued moratoriums on expansion from the state because of water and sewer issues.
"You don't want your water and sewer system to go from a secondary issue to a primary issue," Mitchell said.
Allen said the firm was selected by city staff through a rigorous interview process and will aid the city in mapping out the future of the city's water and sewer system.
"The state doesn't have really strict water regulations, and it is very likely we will need substantial regulatory support when we are working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation," he added.
Lay said the firm was chosen by city staff rather than the BOMA because there is no subcommittee dealing with water. He said it was determined the technical expertise of city employees currently working with the water and sewer system should pick the firm instead.
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