PHOTO: Current mayor of Thompson’s Station, Corey Napier (Right), and his opponent Mike Roberts (Left) // Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
On the eve of early voting, mayor and alderman candidates for the town of Thompson’s Station all spoke on various issues Tuesday night during the election forum at the community center.
Organized by the Advertiser News, the election forum saw candidates answer questions relating to the town’s sewer issues, park preservation and expansion, development growth and more.
Candidates for town mayor at the election forum were Mike Roberts and current mayor Corey Napier. Alderman candidates were Shaun Alexander, Trent Harris, Steve Hockett, and current alderman Brandon Bell.
The first question asked was how candidates would deal with the current wastewater treatment issues. Thompson’s Station uses a drip irrigation system for disposal of treated wastewater, and has two large bodies of water, known as cells, where water is treated. For nearly a decade, cell one has been damaged, with talks of how to fix it still under way.
Roberts said he did not believe in allowing for developers to develop their own sewer systems, and that he would be in favor of constructing a second regional wastewater treatment plant, calling it “the most logical solution for the town.”
“The town is in the sewer business, and we need to maintain the sewer systems,” Roberts said. “We don’t need multiple different systems of small sizes and dubious quality. Talk about a nightmare scenario; health safety issues, long-term maintenance, and so forth.”
Napier pointed out that just a little over a decade ago, the town didn’t even have any sewer accessibility, with residents all having to utilize septic tanks. Napier also spoke in favor of constructing a second regional wastewater treatment plant, though stressed that the town had options.
“We can leverage new technology married up with existing infrastructures – investments that we already have,” Napier said. “[There are] ways that we can monetize wastewater. Turn that linebuilding into an asset, and have our sewer system pay for itself, and maybe actually return them to taxpayers and the citizens.”
Another question asked was how the town is positioned to attract more diverse home buyers; that is, home buyers interested in town homes, condos, and other options aside from traditional single-family lots.
Napier briefly listed some of the most well-known cities and towns throughout the world, saying they all share one thing in common: housing diversity.
“We are getting folks not only moving from Chicago and New York and California, but they’re moving from Franklin,” Napier said. “They’re moving from Spring Hill. They have choices, and they’re choosing here, because they like their options. Housing gets back to part of our brand.”
Roberts said the kind of housing Thompson’s Station should see would ultimately be up to residents, which he would discern through public outreach initiatives.
“The first order of business from me as mayor will be to hold public forums, and initiate survey questionnaires to gather input from you, the people,” Roberts said. “We will, in short order, create a monthly newsletter to all residents, informing them about what we are doing, what we see on the near-term horizon, and what long-term goals and insights are being considered. This way the public can give us feedback, and they won’t have to hear about what’s happening from a neighbor, or in the paper after the fact.”
Roberts continued to stress the importance of focusing on fixing the sewer issues, calling it his number-one priority, with generating more diversity in revenue a close second. Roberts without a working sewer system, businesses cannot come to Thompson’s Station, and without business, sales tax revenue won’t grow according to the town’s needs.
Napier talked about finding “balance” in sources of revenue, citing the installation of solar fields on the wastewater drip fields as an example, where costly projects can make back funds through smart implementation. Napier also talked about the town’s brand as a “green oasis in the middle of chaos,” and that its unique identity could be used to monetize the tourism dollar.
Early voting in Tennessee started on Wednesday and lasts through November 1, with election day on November 6.