By SKIP ANDERSONThere were few bumps in the road at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, except for squabbles over spending priorities and a tiny stretch of road with a hefty price tag.
There were few bumps in the road at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, except for squabbles over spending priorities and a tiny stretch of road with a hefty price tag.
At-Large Alderman Ann Petersen cast the night’s lone “no” vote, an expression of her view that the city may be placing too much emphasis on streetlights and curb appeal in the area surrounding the downtown Franklin area.
“It just seems like too much money for one-fourth of a mile,” Petersen said, referring to contract number 2012-0089 to award a $4.8-million contract to the Parkes Companies, Inc., to extend Third Avenue North to Hillsboro Road. Petersen’s objections were largely rhetorical as the BOMA previously approved the expenditure.
Ward 4 Alderman Margaret Martin conceded the price tag is high, but argued that the civic benefits of the project justify the cost.
“This sounds like a lot of money, and it is. But it’s where our priorities are,” she said. “There are a lot of streetscape elements that go along with this project. This is not just a street. … The public needs to know it’s more than just pavement that’s being paid for.”
City Administrator Eric Stuckey said that the project comes relatively cheaply to the city, as it’s part of the Hillsboro Road Widening Project, which is partially funded by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and stimulus money from the federal government.
“We’re receiving a rebate on the interest of those bonds,” said Stuckey.
Beverly Burger, Ward 1 alderman, expressed concerned about the public’s perception of such a high price tag for such a small stretch of road.
“I want to assure people that I’m not voting for this over other priorities like [further developing] McEwen [Drive], because that is definitely on our radar,” said Burger. “We have committed to this as a board; the votes were there. And it is critical that we [sync] this with the Hillsboro Road Widening Project.”
Earlier in the meeting, the BOMA voted unanimously to establish control at McEwen and Oxford Glen Drive in the first of two readings on the measure.
The Hillsboro Road project will add multiple lanes to the thoroughfare between the Mack Hatcher Bypass and Highway 96, as well as bury all utilities, add sidewalks to both sides of the road, and add decorative streetlights like those already installed in downtown Franklin. After spending years in the planning stage, construction of the project could begin as soon as December.
“When I look at the other things the city needs to do, I just can’t support this,” Petersen said.
Martin also withdrew ordinance 2012-43, which would have limited the speed limit to 25 mph on Westhaven and Townsend boulevards. She said the withdrawal of the measure comes at the request of the homeowners’ association.
For the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting, click here.