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published on 05/13/2003

Playground Committee Makes Presentation at Town Council Meeting

By staff writer

Members of the Playground Committee, Debra Blake and Phil Johnson joined Recreation Department head, Scott Cook in a presentation of recommendations to the Town Council concerning the playground/picnic area/ tennis courts behind the Signal Mountain Golf and Country Club on James Boulevard. The Signal Mountain Town Council met Monday, May 12 at 7:00 PM at the Town Hall. Mayor Jim Althaus called the meeting to order and offered prayer. Town Recorder Diana Campbell called roll. Present were Vice-mayor and Councilmember Bill Leonard and Councilmembers Rachel Bryant and Robert White. Councilmember Steve Ruffin was out of town. Also present at the meeting were town attorney Phil Noblett and town manager Hershel Dick.

Scott Cook thanked the members of the Playground Committee: Debra Blake, Ron Eytchison, Phil Johnson, Milou Young, and himself for serving on the committee. He reminded everyone that what they were proposing was just a suggestion. Although not in the formal presentation, number one in priority is to demolish the “old pool” but save the bathhouse and renovate it. A grassy knoll would replace the pool. Other projects include expanding parking, creating a walking trail around the existing playground, replace existing playground equipment, renovating the three pavilions, and renovating the tennis courts. A total cost for the suggested projects would be at least $207,000, all of which is not included in the proposed 2004 recreation budget. Some options were brought up like only renovating two of the four tennis courts and turning the other two into a workout area for the baseball players. Vandalism was discussed. Councilmember Rachel Bryant suggested the Town come up with a campaign to educate the school children about how vandalism hurts the Town and a member of the audience suggested motion lights connected to the Police Station with signs warning people about vandalism. A copy of the detailed proposal is available at the Town Hall. Mayor Althaus thanked Scott and said that the proposal would be taken into consideration on Saturday, May 17th when the Town Council begins it’s budget work sessions.

In other business four resolutions were presented concerning appointments to various boards and committees. Two current members of the Library Board were re-appointed, Jean Brye and Pat Vincent and a third new member, Laura Pierce was appointed. The Signal Mountain Recreation Advisory Board gained a new member, Jason Farmer. Re-appointed to the this board were Don Close, Gene Ezell, and Gayle Gamble. Current members of the Planning Commission, Hale Hamilton, Dan Saieed, Jr., Jean Bullard, Lou Oliphant, Lamar Rankin, Dick Dellender, Wells Blake, and Brendan Olin were reappointed. According to the Town Charter, the mayor makes this appointment, however, Mayor Althaus wished to have the appointment made at the approval of the Town Council. Also serving on this committee are two representatives of the Town Council, Mayor Jim Althaus and Councilmember Rachel Bryant. The final appointment made at the meeting was that of Judy Ekiss as a member of the Board of Zoning Appeals. Vice-mayor Bill Leonard questioned conflict of interest Mrs. Ekiss might have considering her profession as a real estate agent. Vouching for her character, he had no doubt she would do a good job but felt he needed to ask the question. Mayor Althuas also spoke in support of the appointment and town attorney Phil Noblett pointed out that it doesn’t matter what profession a person has who serves as there is a state code which requires members who serve on various government boards, etc. must recluse themselves when there is a conflict of interest. All three of these resolutions passed unanimously. To view a list of all the committees, boards, commissions, etc. with names, terms, and purposes, go to the Signal Mountain Community Web Site and look under government in the Community Section.

The fourth resolution to be presented and approved at the meeting authorized the town manager to award a contract to Old Dominion Brush in an amount of $13,645 for the purchase of one leaf machine for the Town. This will make a total of four leaf machines, all purchased from Old Dominion Brush.

Under citizens’ and other’s opportunity to address the Council, resident Pris Shartle asked the Town to consider repairing the pot holes along James Boulevard and Signal Mountain Road many of which are a direct result of the trucks that traveled the road during the building phase of the Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church. Neither of these two roads are in the planned re-surface project for 2003-4, however, Hershel Dick said he would look into and get them corrected. Several members of the Council also agreed the pot holes were becoming treacherous. Resident Lou Oliphant asked about the problem with the Town’s traffic light. Mayor Althaus said they Town realizes that it’s broken but it is something that has to be contracted out and there is trouble getting it fixed. She also asked about the guardrail on Mississippi Avenue to which Hershel Dick that should be in place by summertime. Resident Joe Dumas also asked the status of the sidewalks down James Boulevard. Hershel Dick said they have been flagged and surveyed and are now with the engineers but it would probably be next fall before they were in place.

The Planning Commission met May 1, 2003. Secretary Lou Oliphant presented the Council the minutes of that meeting noting that the commission’s goal of four hours of continued education was partially reached when Bryan Shults, from the state of Tennessee’s local planning staff, led the commission through Chapter II, “The Comprehensive Planning Process” from the Tennessee Planning Commissioner Handbook.

Councilmember Robert White reported that he was amazed at the number of volunteers serving on various committees and boards within our Town. He thanked the Planning Commission for making the effort to continue their goal of four hours of education and he noted with pride a sign posted at Nolan Elementary School saying, “We Support the Thrasher Gym”.

Councilmember Rachel Bryant thanked Hershel Dick and Scott Cook for changing the adult swim time limit as she suggested at the last meeting. She also reported on a telephone call she received just before the meeting telling her that the original deed of land that the Tabb family currently owns was deeded to the Town of Signal Mountain on the condition it always remain with the Town of Signal Mountain and that the Town should never have sold it to the Tabb family. Councilmember and Vice-mayor Bill Leonard noted that he too received the same phone call. Mayor Althaus pointed out that town attorney Phil Noblett, having just learned about this 1928 restriction will look into it and report back.

Vice-mayor Bill Leonard reported that he had attended the second session of the Elected Officials Continuing Education of City Government, sponsored by the University of Tennessee. Also in the class was Walden Town Mayor, Peter Hetzler, which he said was a very positive experience as it felt good to be collaborating with the Town of Walden. This session dealt with dealing with the different departments like fire and police to which he learned that elected officials need to be ready to deal with the multiplicity of complex issues. It causes him to be mindful of his responsibilities to the Town as well as those serving on the various committees, boards, and commissions. He praised town manager Hershel Dick and town attorney Phil Noblett for their professionalism.

The meeting ended with a reminder by Mayor Althaus of the budget process beginning this next Saturday, May 17th at 8:00 AM at the Town Hall. Before beginning the work session certain town business will be conducted which the Town Council was not prepared to handle at this meeting. Then sometime between the 17th and 23rd of May, the members of the council will look at all the budget proposals and then on May 23rd at 8:00 AM, department heads will meet individually with the Council to iron out details and trim the budget. The first reading of the 2004 Budget will be at the regular scheduled meeting of the Town Council, June 9th at 7:00 PM. The second meeting will be June 23rd at 7:00. Residents are invited to any and all of these meetings, but will have an opportunity to address the Council only at the first reading on June 9th, according to Mayor Althaus.

The meeting adjourned around 8:30 PM until it could be picked back up on the 17th.

Department meeting each Monday 9:00 AM – Town Hall Conference Room
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