BY DAVID FISHER
The Dresden Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a sewer rehab grant during its regular monthly meeting on Monday, October 3.
They also discussed preliminary drawings of the City’s new municipal complex, acquiring the Winstead property, purchasing new LED light fixtures for street lights damaged in the tornado, leaf collection problems, dilapidated housing, improvements at Wilson Park, speeding on Pikeview, zoning violations, and Dresden Distribution Center dumpster issues.
Funds for Sewer Rehab
The board approved a transfer letter and resolution, as required by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in order to accept $733,883.72 in State TDEC funds for sewer rehab. The money received by the City of Dresden is a portion of Weakley County’s allocated federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, which amounts to $3,803,191.99.
Dresden’s portion of these funds will be utilized to reduce the infiltration of rainwater into the City’s sewer system from storm drains by repairing leaking sewer pipes. This will help prevent overloading the lagoon wastewater treatment facility.
The grant money has been authorized and appropriated by the ARP to be used for eligible drinking water, wastewater, or storm water projects; and TDEC has been designated to administer the funds.
ARP funding is also allocated for water and wastewater utilities in the following cities: Gleason = $646,312.49; Greenfield = $680,662.05; Martin = $1,113,397.40; and Sharon = $628,936.34.
Mayor Washburn explained Weakley County government desires to transfer its state designated ARP allocation to these cities based on population, due to the fact that the county does not operate any utilities.
Municipal Complex Design
Mayor Washburn said that A2H – which is the engineering and architectural firm hired by the city to develop the new municipal complex, replacing Dresden’s city hall, police department and fire department destroyed in the December 10, 2021 tornado – has completed the final preliminary drawings for the project. He said the plan was emailed to board members for their review.
“We’re going to have a meeting with the engineers, architects and construction manager to review the plans,” the mayor said.
The board will be notified when a date and time are scheduled to meet with engineers and architects from A2H out of Memphis and Cary Henson of Henson Construction Services from Jackson. The plans for the municipal complex will be reviewed at that time.
Winstead Property Purchase
The board discussed purchasing a small section of property from Tony and Inju Winstead located on the corner of Main and Wilson streets, which is part of the lot where the former Majestic Restaurant stood before being destroyed in last December’s tornado.
The land is needed to accommodate plans for the new Dresden Municipal Complex, now in the planning stages. The lot, which is equal to 4,407.37 sq. ft., measures 112.09 ft. along the north and south boundary lines bordering on Wilson Street and 39.32 ft. along the east and west boundary lines. This would include the back of Mr. Winstead’s previous restaurant building, as well as the area that is referred to as the “dog leg” that went in the back of the Kemp, Peeler and City of Dresden properties fronting Main Street.
The proposal would involve the Winsteads conveying the paved drive section that was previously used by all of the other property owners for ingress and egress on the south side of the building inclusive of the Winsteads’ lot. This conveyance would leave the Winsteads a 100 ft. by 36.33 section of land, which is equal to 3,633 sq. ft.
Alderman Anderson is assisting with negotiating the purchase price through the Winsteads’ attorney, Lang Unger.
The property would be used for parking and traffic flow behind the buildings.
The water and sewer taps would be at very little cost to the city, since it would be done at the same time as the other structures on the block.
“Negotiations look promising and, hopefully, we’ll get that issue resolved in short order,” Mayor Washburn said.
Hwy 22 Streetlights
The board voted to spend up to $10,000 to purchase eight or nine fixtures for streetlights destroyed by the tornado along Hwy 22, east of Kountry Korner restaurant.
The new LED fixtures use less electricity than the old streetlights and will save the city money on its electric bill.
According to Jeff Thompson, who is a representative from the Weakley County Municipal Electric System, Dresden will save 114 kWh per fixture per month, which amounts to $9.21 each at the current rates.
The fixtures cost $773 each, which amounts to approximately $1,000 each by the time they are installed.
Leaf Collection Problems
Local resident Bobby Goode raised the issue of leaf removal problems. He noted many citizens are not aware that they cannot push their leaves to the edge of the streets this fall, because the city’s leaf blower machine is broken and the new machine will not be delivered in time to pick up the leaves this year.
Although a large number of citizens may not know about the problem, Mayor Washburn noted local news media has mentioned it in the past and it has been discussed in local social media.
City Recorder Jennifer Branscum stated notices regarding the problem have been placed inside Dresden City Hall ever since the board meeting when the leaf machine purchase was approved.
“I don’t know what else we can do to inform the public, except go door-to-door,” the mayor said.
Goode asked if the city could borrow, rent or lease a leaf machine to alleviate the problem until the new machine is delivered.
“If we don’t do something, it’s going to be a problem for the citizens and a huge problem for our public works department,’ Goode said.
Mayor Washburn stated the board voted to purchase a new leaf truck in June of this year at a cost of $89,991.14. However, the leaf machine cannot be delivered until February or March of 2023.
The mayor said Dresden Public Works Director Josh Lassiter has contacted area communities in Northwest Tennessee concerning using one of their surplus leaf machines, but this has not turned up any results. As a last resort, the alternative is passing out bags for citizens to bag their leaves and place them at the edge of the street to be picked up by city workers.
Alderman Gwin Anderson suggested contacting the firm selling Dresden the new leaf blower machine, which has contacts all over the region, to see if they know where a leaf machine could be obtained and used until the new unit arrives.
Mayor Washburn said he will have Lassiter pursue that avenue of inquiry in order to procure a leaf machine this fall.
Dilapidated Housing Issues
An Etheridge Street resident complained about the dilapidated condition of a house near where she lives, and mentioned there is a problem with people passing out on the front lawn and coming and going all hours of the night. Also, she said neighbors are afraid to allow their children to walk to the bus stop. She noted citations have been issued, but the problem is never resolved.
According to Police Chief Chris Crocker, three individuals were arrested at the residence for fighting.
Branscum stated the owner of the property will be cited into Dresden City Court on Tuesday, October 18, at 2:00 p.m.
The mayor stated the outcome of the court appearance will be forwarded to all board members.
Mayor Washburn commented the complainant could bring the photos she took showing the condition of the property in question to court for the judge to review. He added the owner has been cited multiple times, and each time, he does just enough to get by, but the problem is never permanently solved.
City Attorney Beau Pemberton stated, if the property is deemed structurally unsound or otherwise unsuitable for habitation, the city can initiate condemnation proceedings. Pemberton stressed that a law or the city code must be violated before legal action can be taken to resolve the issue.
Parks and Recreation Director Joey Winstead stated Co-ed League games are being played at Wilson Park every other weekend. “We just had the parking lot paved from Parkway to the cul-de-sac, which added a number of parking spaces,” Winstead said. “We’ll also be adding some curbing to improve the appearance of the park.”
The Board voted unanimously to renew the contract with Pepsi, which calls for the soft drink company to provide the city’s park with scoreboards and maintain them, providing only Pepsi products are sold at the concession stand.
Donnie Essary stated he would like to see speed bumps placed on Pikeview in the vicinity of Broad Street, due to problems with speeding in a heavy traffic area.
However, Alderman Anderson explained this cannot be done because it is a state highway and the city does not have the authority to do so.
Also, the mayor pointed out the city’s insurance carrier advised against it because Dresden would be responsible for damage to vehicles crossing the speed bumps.
Instead, the board unanimously approved installing a “No Left Turn” sign on the south end of Broad Street where it intersects with Pikeview to reduce the likelihood of automobile accidents.
Alderman Anderson brought it to the board’s attention he has learned there is a hair salon operating in an R-1 residential zone, which is not allowed. He noted a permit was approved by the Board of Zoning Appeals. However, the only exceptions to an R-1 Zone on appeal are for churches, cemeteries or clinics.
Pemberton stated the Board of Zoning Appeals erred in issuing the permit.
The board voted 4-1, with Alderman Ralph Cobb entering a “pass” vote, to have the Board of Zoning Appeals review their decision and give the property owner a chance to argue his side of the issue.
Distribution Center Dumpster
Alderman Cobb stated the Dresden Distribution Center is no longer assisting with tornado recovery operations and has reverted to Be The Village. Since they don’t have as much garbage to deal with, Cobb suggested contacting the organization and asking them if they still need the large dumpster the city installed during the recovery effort. If not, he suggested the dumpster should revert to the smaller size in use before the larger unit was installed.
Mayor Washburn stated the matter would be addressed and the board informed of the outcome.
In announcements, it was mentioned there will be a mayoral candidate debate at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, at the Dresden Civic Center.
With no further business, the meeting adjourned.