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EPA grant assistance to be sought for removal of former packing plant

EPA grant assistance to be sought for removal of former packing plant
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
There can almost always be more than one avenue to fix a problem.
Union City Council members have been trying to address the problem with a major eyesore in the city at the former Reelfoot Packing Co. After years of trying to work with the owners, the council began to pursue actions through the Environmental Protection Agency and has hired an EPA attorney.
Tuesday night, the council learned there may be another avenue.
City manager Kathy Dillon said she received information from Keramida —a high-tech, full-service sustainability, environmental, health and safety, and remediation consulting and engineering firm, providing services to industries, cities and governments worldwide.
The firm is headquartered in Indianapolis.
Keramida had worked with the owners of the building in past years to remediate the property, but negotiations fell through when there was not enough steel in the building. The company has returned, though, to help in redeveloping the property and was requesting the city be the conduit for the application of a U.S. EPA grant.
Ms. Dillon said she understands the building’s owners have given verbal permission for the company to be on the property and for the company to apply for the grant on the city’s behalf.
She said she has been told there will be no local match and Keramida will be paid using the grant funds, should it be awarded. The project would be in three phases.
“It’s another step toward begin proactive,” she said.
The deadline to apply for the grant is early in November.
Councilman Dianne Eskew asked why, if the property does not belong to the city, does the city have to apply for the grant, and will the city end up owning the property?
City attorney Jim Glasgow Jr. informed her that it is a government grant authorized for private property and he does not think the city will own the property.
He suggested the council explore this avenue, but not stop what it is currently being pursued through the EPA attorney. “It’s trying to address the issue on more than one front,” he added.
Ms. Dillon said she thinks the same department which is receiving the city’s complaints about the building will be receiving the grant applications and that the city has a good chance at getting the project funded through the grant. The money will not go to the city or the property owners, but will be administered by Keramida and paid to the contractors performing the work, it was noted.
Ms. Dillon said she does not believe there will be liability on the city’s part and believes the grantors understand municipalities and county governments are applying for private owners and that no one would take advantage of the grants if the governments were going to be responsible.
“If we miss the boat now, we’re out of the water,” the city manager said before the council agreed to the city applying for the grant.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by Glasgow, the council:
• During a public hearing, received information about the Union City Hazard Mitigation Plan. Jim Temple with Planning and Codes provided the review, with Public Works Director Steve Ladd informing the council of 14 locations included in the plan which are flood problem areas within the city. Temple said the plan will go to the federal level for approval.
• Heard from Glasgow that he and county officials are still conferring about the transfer of county property to the city. The county took possession of the property after a recent county property tax sale and the city cannot forgive city taxes. A plan is being worked out for the county to sell the city the property and the city offer the property for sale to the public.
• Heard from Dawn Tittle with Obion County Leadership Class. She said the class wishes to take on revitalization of Kiwanis Park as its class project. She said they wish to do cosmetic work on the gazebo, repaint the turtle and make Kiwanis Park a hot spot for Wi-Fi. The project would be accomplished before the class’s May graduation date. A majority of the class was in attendance at the meeting.
• Listened as the mayor proclaimed Oct. 23-31 Red Ribbon Week.
• Adopted the Emergency Response Plan for the water system as amended. Jason Moss informed the council the plan needed to be updated to include a change in employees, the addition of a new company working with the city, new phone numbers and mutual aid agreements with South Fulton and Martin.
Moss said, should a need arise, a main line could be extended to either city within a matter of hours to supplement Union City’s water supply or for Union City to help either of those cities.
• Granted a request for a new water line at 1444 Richards Road. The owner of the property will pay the $2,500-$2,700 cost with the city installing the line. The city will be responsible for all future maintenance, which Ms. Dillon said is paid for by the customer in water and sewer bills.
• Agreed to follow the recommendation of Ladd and Police Chief Joe Garner and not place a weight limit sign on Lynn Street. Both said they have had their departments monitor the road and have seen no oversized vehicles.
Ladd said both departments will continue to monitor the area and should they see big trucks, they will stop them.
• Learned that the Union City Christmas parade will go on again this year. After last year’s parade, the Jaycees informed the city that they would no longer plan the annual event, but will take on the task again this year.
They requested the city pay for the liability insurance, give money for prizes and block Reelfoot Avenue at First Street so they may start the parade at the Reelfoot Shopping Center. All requests were granted, with the council deciding to give $1,000 for prizes. The parade will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 after Main Street-Union City’s tree lighting ceremony.
Hailey said he thinks having a Christmas parade is a good idea, as long as it is organized, which it has not been in the past few years.
Councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford said he is concerned about closing Reelfoot Avenue, but Garner said signs can be put up warning motorists of the closure. He said traffic could be rerouted onto Everett Boulevard during the time of the parade.
• Received minutes from the Planning Commission, which required no action from the council.
• Agreed to seek bids for the closure of the Municipal Pool and demolition of the building on that site. Parks Director Ken Morris said the pool has not operated since 2008. He said because of the poor economy, the pool was in bad repair and attendance had dropped. He said the city has no agency to answer to in regards to funds used to pay for the installation of the pool, but the area does have to remain a recreational facility. It cannot be made into a parking lot.
Morris said there are plans to maybe place a pavilion and picnic tables at that area, but it will be several years as the ground will need to settle so there are no sinkholes.
Hailey said the council understands the need for a swimming pool and it is working towards building another one. Ms. Dillon said she is working to find a grant for that project.
• Voted to place “No Parking” signs at Bishop Street east of Miles Avenue on the south side of the roadway from Miles Avenue to International Furniture’s Driveway; at South Third Street north of West Jackson Street on the east side of the roadway from East Jackson to West Park Street; and South Third Street south of West Jackson Street on the east side of the roadway from East Jackson about 200 feet toward West Wade Street.
• Took no action on the relocation of the sign at the Northwest Tennessee Regional Industrial Park. Ms. Dillon said the administrator of the grant for Veterans Park — the walking track facility at the industrial park — had requested the move because the spot was a better location for the park’s signage. The administrator informed the city there was money in the grant to move the industrial park sign.
Ms. Dillon said the city would still have to pay its percentage of the grant if the sign is moved, which would mean that it would actually be demolished because the sign is a brick structure.
She added she does not feel that just because funds are left in the grant that they must be spent and she does not feel right about moving a sign that was paid for with a USDA grant and with matching funds from the Obion County Joint Economic and Community Development Council.
Ms. Dillon said the facility is still the industrial park and she also thinks by moving the sign, it could possibly cause a loss in recruits.
She added if the sign is not moved, the park sign can still be placed between the industrial park sign and the electrical pole.
Mrs. Eskew said she thinks with 500 acres, another location can be found for placing the park sign.
In a related matter, Ms. Dillon asked permission to apply for a grant to pay for lighting at the walking track. The city would be responsible for $100,000 of the $400,000 project. The council agreed, with the understanding that if the grant is awarded, the city does not have to accept it.
Ms. Dillon said the project might be able to be completed for a lower price by the Union City Electric Co., but she does not think so. She said the price would also depend on how decorative the  lighting is.
She added the project would not begin this year.
• Agreed to replace six sets of moveable bleachers in the turf management department with three larger permanent sets at the suggestion of the city’s insurance company. Morris said he and Turf Management Director Chris Crockett have spoken and he understands the bleachers are lower profile and he believes they are for the Babe Ruth field. The funds for the expenditure are in the turf management budget, Ms. Dillon said.
• Reminded the council members photographs are being made for the website, which is moving forward.
• Thanked Main Street-Union City Director Phyllis Rauchle and others for a wonderful Taste of Ken-Tenn event.
Councilman Danny Leggett was absent.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at dryder@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 10.19.11

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