BY DAVID FISHER
DRESDEN (June 1) — The top item on the agenda at Dresden City Board’s regular monthly meeting involved the former CSX Property located on Pikeview Street at the intersection of Jones Street.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held virtually and was limited to the mayor, aldermen, and city recorder. The media and public watched the meeting through the City of Dresden’s YouTube channel.
City Attorney Beau Pemberton rendered his opinion concerning the question of who owns the property at the old railroad overpass on Pikeview. “Whenever the city acquired this land through a quitclaim deed, the railroad basically gave up any rights it had, whether it is fee simple ownership or easement rights, to the (17-acre tract),” Pemberton said. The issue addressed by the board is whether or not to sell a one-acre tract of the property to a private party.
He noted the City of Dresden purchased the property in 2011 for $55,200.
Pemberton presented the documentation upon which he bases his legal opinion and submitted a written statement summarizing the situation as follows:
“I have reviewed the matter of the former CSX Railroad property that is on tonight’s agenda, along with all of the supporting documentation in the meeting packet, including the last deed on the property.
“It appears that the property at issue most likely falls within the parameters of the deed and that the City has been in possession (both actual and constructive) for many years now. The railroad has affirmatively indicated that they have no interest in the land at issue, and it appears that the city has the ability to convey whatever interest they may possess in the property at issue to a third-party at this time.
“That said, it is my recommendation that the city deed over all of its interest and right in the property at issue in this matter to Terry Oliver and Sam Bone (Weakley County Gas & Oil), or to an entity of their directing, so that the same can be added back to the tax rolls as privately-held property. If the Board approves the transfer, I will prepare the quitclaim deed to effect this transfer and to divest the city’s interest in this property.”
Alderman Gwin Anderson made a motion stating the board authorizes the mayor to communicate with interested parties and averaging out what the taxpayers paid per acre when the land was purchased by the city. The motion passed 5-1 with Alderman Kenneth Moore casting the only “no” vote.
Mayor Washburn stated Oliver and Bone may totally reject the city’s offer.
“We still have to reach a sales price before anything is signed,” Pemberton added.
In other business, bids were considered for renovation at the Harmon and Lucille McWherter Civic Center located at 589 Evergreen Street in Dresden. The work involves removing the roll-top, garage-type door and installing new aluminum-frame storefront doors and glass in the building to fill the 10 ft. x 10 ft. opening. The board approved the lowest bid totaling $7,116.95, submitted by Still Evans Contractors, Inc. of Dyersburg, Tennessee.
Mayor Washburn stated the new door will help light up the interior of the building.
A resolution making budget amendments to various lines in the City of Dresden’s General Fund and Water Fund for fiscal year 2020 was unanimously approved by the board. The resolution reallocates funds to cover budget shortfalls or higher than expected expenditures. It also budgets the receipt of annual state funds for supplemental training.
In announcements, Dresden Mayor Jeff Washburn addressed the nationwide situation regarding the violence in the wake of the death of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, as a result of the actions of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
“We respect all lives – white lives, black lives, police lives, fire department lives, the young and the old, the rich and the poor,” Washburn said. “We’re going to do our part to ensure all lives are safeguarded in our community.”
In comments from the board, Alderman Anderson mentioned a problem with loud mufflers on trucks passing through town. Mayor Washburn stated he has asked the Dresden Police Department to get a decibel meter to check vehicles that may be exceeding legal noise limits.
Alderman Lyndal Dilday said there are vehicles in yards without up-to-date tags or city stickers. The mayor noted this is also a problem Dresden police will be cracking down on.
Mayor Washburn mentioned there is a demonstrator fire truck with approximately 3,000 to 5,000 miles on it the city has an opportunity to purchase for $277,248. He stated a new truck, like the one for sale, normally sells for over $431,382. “For seven or eight years, we’ve applied for a firefighters grant to help us buy a new truck,” Washburn said. “What’s hurt us is our debt load is so low, it has taken points away from us.” He added, if the city buys it outright, the purchase would have to be financed over about five years. “Our newest pumper is over 25 years old, and the oldest is 37 years old,” he added. The board voted unanimously to let out bids for a pumper fire truck.
In department reports, Water Supervisor Jeff Pierpoint said one of the city’s water tanks was inspected, in keeping with state regulations that require the tanks to be inspected every five years. Mayor Washburn stated the tanks are inspected on a rotational basis, so they don’t all have to be inspected at once.
In the police report, Chief Steve Howe stated calls are approximately half of what they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the meeting drew to a close, Casey Hood, a candidate for the 24th Senatorial District of Tennessee, introduced himself to those present.
BY DAVID FISHER