Turkey traffic takes turn at town council’s table

By Dewain E. Peek,

OCN Editor

A difference of opinion among aldermen led to Mayor Curtis Hayes having to cast a tie-breaking vote during the Monday, Dec, 2 regular monthly Livingston City Council meeting.

Alderman Kelly Coleman asked that the Board of Aldermen consider a policy on use of police personnel for traffic control for events carried out by for-profit businesses.

A recent turkey giveaway by a Cookeville radio station required Livingston Police Department to direct traffic around the square. That it was around lunch time created more congestion around the square.

“I want to make this real clear that I am completely, 100% supportive of any efforts made by any businesses, and I want to say that I appreciate the generosity of a radio station coming to our town the week before Thanksgiving and offering turkeys to, I think, the first 100 folks that showed up on the square,” Alderman Coleman said.

That said, he went on to express concerns about the way it was done.

“One is that, while I’m grateful for their generosity, I do believe that any business that is in the business of making a profit, that asks the town to come to the square, and do a promotion should be expected to pay a fee to utilize the multiple police force and vehicles from our police department that were required that day to make that effort come to fruition,” Alderman Coleman said.

His second concern was that the time of day the event occurred created a “an absolute traffice nightmare.”

He said a business on the square had also complained to him about the traffic and that they had been given no advance notice that the turkey giveaway was going to happen that day.

“I would like to see us consider who we allow to have events on the square, when these events take place, whether they should or should not reimburse the city for use of our forces, it’s just that I think we should talk about and try to make some proactive decision on how we can prevent such a mess that we had that day,” Aldermen Coleman said.

Alderman Ken Dodson wondered aloud whether the congestion would have happened if the event had been at Central Park.

“Would there have been the congestion, or would there have been the need for the law enforcement?” Alderman Dodson asked.

Aldeman Coleman concurred.

“One of my suggestions would be that, of course, we continue to entertain those type of events but do it at a place that’s not disruptive to the motoring public and to the businesses on our square,” Alderman Coleman said. “I think that’s a good option.”

Alderman David Langford did not have a problem with the giveaway, saying, “I just thought they made people happy.”

And Alderman Ronald Dishman asked Police Chief Greg Etheredge if the police department got any complaints.

“Other that what you’re discussing here, no, sir,” Chief Etheredge answered. “I did not.”

“You got one from me,” Alderman Coleman said.

And he reiterated that businesses around the square had also talked to him about it.

Alderman Langford said, “I just got a good feeling about it when I saw them coming around the town.”

He said that some of the people who received turkeys might not have had one otherwise.

Mayor Hayes suggested simply working with anyone who wants to do such an event to steer them toward Central Park or the ballpark or places such as that.

Alderman Coleman agreed, “I think that’s a great idea.”

Alderman Dishman made a motion to dismiss the subject, to take no action. Alderman Langford seconded the motion.

In further discussion, Aldermen Chris Speck and Ken Dodson supported moving such events to Central Park.

Mayor Hayes suggested, “If given proper notice, we might be able to make a fun day out of it at Central Park, too.”

On the vote, Aldermen Dishman, Langford, and Rex Dale voted yes, and Aldermen Coleman, Dodson, and Speck voted no, leaving it at a tie.

The Livingston mayor normally does not have a vote, but in the event of a tie, the mayor may vote.

“I’m going to vote,” Mayor Hayes said.

He went on to say he was glad that the families got turkeys in Livingston.

“However, there could be a safety issue in the event that we have problems on the square,” Mayor Hayes said. “I’m not truly into renting out our cops, but I think we can turn this thing into a nice event in Central Park, whether it’s some Christmas music or we have some churches there singing, choirs and things of that nature.

“So, I’m going to vote no.”

Greg Davenport of J.R. Wauford & Co. gave an update on the Hilham higher flow water line project and rehab of city sewer pumping stations.

The water line project is currently going along Upper Hilham Road.

“That project will continue for the next several months,” Davenport said. “I don’t anticipate it’ll be finished for probably at least six months, with testing.”

The line ends at Hilham Highway and will increase the water delivery to Hilham from 220 gallons per minute to over 450 gallons per minute, according to Davenport.

Next to be funded is rehabilitation of sewer pumping stations on Hillcrest, Buena Vista, at Livingston Academy, in Hidden Valley, and in the industrial park.

“These are in dire need of renovation,” Davenport said.

He said work has also been done on the sewer at Sonic where the land was filled in and over time has crushed the sewer line.

He recommended going forward with a second loan through Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund, which has already been approved for the project but has not yet been activated so as to save money on interest.

Mayor Hayes said, “We budgeted the money.”

A resolution to authorize the loan, not to exceed $1.7 million, was adopted with all aldermen voting yes.

Resolution 2019-12-1 was adopted to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for rehabilitation or reconstruction of homes in Livingston through Tennessee Housing Development Agency.

Amanda Mainord from Grassroots Planning was on hand to give more information on the purpose of the resolution.

“This grant is eligible for low-income families, low income elderly, disabled folks who live in their own home,” Mainord said. “You have to live in your own home, own the home.”

She added, “We cannot work on mobile homes, that is a stipulation of the grant.”

The $500,000 grant would at no cost for the Town of Livingston, according to Mainord.

The only bid on landscape and turf maintenance for the courthouse square and Central Park was received from Better Lawns. The bid was approved.

Second reading approval was given for Ordinance 2019-11-1, which updates the city ordinance that allowed package liquor sales. This ordinance amendment corrects erroneous language to now prohibit the sale of beer between the hours of 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday through Saturday and between the hours of 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sunday.

City Attorney John Meadows explained, “The purpose of this ordinance is to correct an error in the ordinance that’s already been adopted by the city.”

He went on to add, “This is something that we had to do because the ordinance that we’ve currently got is not enforceable because it’s not in compliance with state law, and this corrects that.”

Ray Evans gave an update on Downtown Revitalization. He said some of the projects in the Downtown Revitalization budget are already underway.

“The Main Street parking lot has been revegetated with trees and shrubs,” Evans said. “We still have irrigation to do. We have some ground cover to do. We’ll probably wait until spring to do that. There’s no reason to try to do that now.”

The meeting adjourned.