Aldermen approve subdivision, other business

New Albany aldermen handled some routine matters Tuesday beyond the condemnation hearings that took up much of the meeting time (see related story in this issue). They included approving a planned subdivision, improving utility service response, dealing with the sound of railroad train horns and continued marketing of the city.

Building Inspector Mike Armstrong reported that the city planning and zoning commission had approved plans for a new subdivision during their monthly meeting Monday.

The plat was for a proposed subdivision off Substation Road by Unique LLC. Company owner Terry Young told aldermen there is a problem in that the street involved, Garrison Street, is only one lane wide, about 10 to 12 feet. He said his family is willing to donate enough land to widen the street to two lanes, and Mayor Tim Kent said the city would like to put a cul-de-sac at end of the street so garbage and other trucks can turn around rather than having to back in. Neighboring landowner John Ellis said he supported the plan and would work with the Youngs. Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker moved to accept the plat, Alderman-at-Large Scott Dunnam seconded and the vote in favor was unanimous.

In a second matter, Terry and John Young asked to dedicate new street Virginia Way to the city. This is street leading to Tractor Supply Company off Park Plaza.

Building inspector Armstrong said aldermen had approved the street name earlier but still need to accept the street as part of the city system and responsibility.

Alderman Olson moved to accept with Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson seconding and the measure passing, with the provision that the street is approved by engineers as meeting city specifications.

Light, gas and water manager Bill Mattox reported that a hybrid bucket truck should be here by late summer, purchased with a grant. Part of the requirement is having a public charging site, he said, and TVA representatives are coming next week to look at sites. He asked for recommendations from officials or others concerned with downtown.

Mattox also said he needs to order two more regular bucket trucks, one with a 60-foot boom and one with a 40-foot boom. He had been considering getting or leasing a used one but told aldermen he can’t find any good enough so he will need to buy them new.

Aldermen approved the request but Mattox said it will take a year to get the trucks so they will fall in next year’s budget. The department does have the money to pay for the trucks, he added.

Mayor Kent brought up the question of creating a railroad “quiet zone” as was requested at a previous meeting. Kent said Bill Rutledge, who initially asked for the study, Chandler Rogers and Bo Collins had agreed to serve as the committee and meet with Burlington-Northern officials about requirements. Alderman Olson moved to formally name them as the committee, Alderman Dunnan seconded and all voted yea.

Tourism and Marketing Director Sean Johnson reported on recent marketing efforts including having new rack cards printed to be distributed at welcome centers

Johnson said tourism tax was up 12 percent at the previous aldermen’s meeting but only two percent this time. Said he extrapolated to get amount of dollars actually spent on tourism and on retail sales generally and concluded that people were shopping but not eating.

Johnson said he had the first Tallahatchie RiverFest planning committee session and that some good ideas had come out of it. A story in the Wednesday issue of the Gazette reported on that meeting.

He said he was pleased with the social media seminar he presented and about 30 attended. He added that in March he plans to offer a seminar on selling on YouTube and Google.

Johnson said he had only a few campaigns planned for the next month or two but has gotten ads or stories in several regional magazines and plans to put new designs on the billboards he has rented highlighting Tanglefoot Trail. He planned to meeting with Hills Heritage people the following day concerning grants, he said, and one other idea under discussion is moving the Down From the Hills music festival and state bluegrass championship to the Park Along the River, away from the fairgrounds.

In other business aldermen:

  • Gave Police Chief Chris Robertson approval to apply for FY15 grants for DUI enforcement and occupant safety (seatbelt and child restraint). The department has been successful in getting the grants in recent years, which make thousands of dollars available for a designated DUI officer and extra enforcement for DUI and seatbelt offenses.
  • Briefly discussed splitting billing for the elementary school resource officer. Mayor Kent said they might want to split the cost of the car and fuel with the school system rather than the city’s paying for all of it. Aldermen informally said the city should try to do that.
  • Approved paying bills related to the water system improvements being done and part of which will be paid for with grants. Included were $14,812.65 for Professional Engineering Services, $138,700 for Parks and Parks Well Service and $74,100 for Phoenix Fabricators.
  • Readdressed the question of hiring Howard Moore to perform grant administration services. It had been discussed at the January meeting but aldermen said they wanted to see his resume, and also consider whether the job might be done by others, such as Main Street Manager Vickie Duke, since she has some experience and hiring Sean Johnson should have relieved her of some work.  Aldermen reiterated they need to see Moore’s resume before going farther.
  • Heard a presentation from two representatives of AFLAC insurance who want to provide cancer policies and other supplemental insurance to city employees. Mayor Tim Kent and the aldermen suggested they submit a written proposal in April, which is when consideration for the next year’s budget will begin.
  • Approved January claims docket and minutes
  • Before adjourning, going into executive session to discuss possible land purchase or sale.