By BROOKE WANSER
Tensions flamed at Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, as city leaders discussed the need for drainage improvements and raising homes in order to reduce flooding in low-lying parts of Franklin.
The debate Tuesday was an extension of a meeting several weeks ago in which aldermen discussed raising 26 homes out of the floodplain.
The city plans to take some fiscal responsibility because several homes were built even after a public U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report detailed the dangers of flooding in the area.
A related component is the drainage improvements along the 100-block of Battle Avenue.
According to the city’s website, separate project areas include the intersections of Battle Avenue with Academy Street and Alicia Drive.
City Administrator Eric Stuckey explained that the city had yet to approve the design for the project.
Stuckey said Franklin’s stormwater funds would be used for the project, and for raising homes.
Director of Engineering Paul Holzen said the project involved a failed culvert, and the city needed to take care of it this year.
“It’s a bigger picture issue,” Stuckey said, so the city doesn’t continue approving projects, only to identify a funding gap later.
“There’s broader challenges, in the terms of, there’s more projects than money to do projects right now,” he admitted.
Raising homes was suggested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, based on a 2015 study which identified houses in Franklin which had experienced repeated issues with flooding.
- U.S. Army Corps would pay 65 percent of the cost to raise the homes, while the city and the homeowner would pay the remainder of the cost, with the city paying the non-federally funded portion.
- U.S. Army Corps would pay 65 percent, and the city would pay the entire remainder of cost.
- U.S. Army Corps would pay 65 percent, and the remaining funding would be split between the city and the homeowner.
- No participation, though city staff noted their disapproval of that option.
Ward 1 Alderman Bev Burger asked when the houses had been approved, and if they were inside the city limits at the time.
She was challenged by Ward 2 Alderman Dana McLendon, who asserted she was trying to remove blame from the city.
“I don’t care who’s to blame, I’m looking for solutions,” McLendon said. “As a policy matter, we should never decide we’re at fault for something and we need to make reparations.”
“Frankly, bottom line, there is no way I will support any of this,” Burger said, referring to the problem a “Pandora’s Box.”
“We can’t do nothing,” Alderman Pearl Bransford said.
“Yes, we can,” Burger said.
McLendon asked why the board supported road improvements to Columbia Avenue, the renovation of the Franklin Theatre, and other projects for the public good. “What’s the difference?” he asked.
Exasperated, Burger argued the city needed to remain within its jurisdiction.
“We have a huge traffic problem, we have road problems, and that’s what we need to be concentrating on,” she insisted. “We don’t need to be picking and choosing which house we’re going to raise out of the flood plain.”
“The beauty of your analysis is simple, but it’s cruel, sometimes,” McLendon responded.
Stuckey said more work needs to be done on the projects before it is brought back to another city work session.