Building in the name of progress

Building in the name of progress

Progress and change were the focuses of discussion during an informal meeting held by the City of Martin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday evening.
University Commons, an area which borders Skyhawk Parkway, has seen substantial change in the last few months and the change will only continue as the ground has been broken for a new shopping center.
Martin Community Development Director Brad Thompson reported to the board Swaim and Swaim, LLC will begin construction within the next couple of weeks for a four-building strip mall.
Three businesses, E.W. James and Sons, Dollar Tree and Hibbett’s, will locate in the new center. The fourth proposed building remains unoccupied.
While the change is something positive for that area of town, Martin resident David Sudberry expressed concern over the re-location of two businesses from University Plaza to the Commons.
Thompson responded he was taking that into consideration and working on an inventory of needs for the surrounding region with Gary Taylor. Brundige said the empty buildings would undergo a “regeneration process.”
In light of the expected growth of University Commons, the board of mayor and aldermen will consider a request  by Swaim and Swaim LLC to make Dustin Laird Drive a city street. Martin Mayor Randy Brundige explained the portion of Dustin Laird Drive in question was the former Brooks Drive.
Martin Public Works Director Billy Wagster noted if the request was granted, it should contain a two-year warranty for utilities.
The board will consider the proposal during its formal meeting set for Monday evening.
Board members will also consider another request Monday evening in the name of progress when they will be asked to allow the city to apply for Fast Track funds for infrastructure.
Brundige explained the proposed resolution would allow the city to apply for Fast Track funds for a rail spur to Southern Belle Refrigerated, located in the former Gordon Foods building.
The request would be for $191,706 with a commitment in local funds of $23,694 for a total project cost of $215,400.
Brundige announced Southern Belle would pay for the match, but the City of Martin has to be the conduit for the Fast Track fund application.
While the company currently has 15 employees, the addition of a rail spur could grow the business to between 50 and 75 employees, Brundige announced.
The board will consider the application during its meeting Monday.
Martin Housing Authority director Brian Harris updated the board about the progress being made at the former home of the Martin Middle School on McComb Street.
Harris said the gymnasium floor has been salvaged and has been used for basketball practice and dance practice. He also said there was a luncheon hosted recently for those interested in breathing life into the building.
“The main problem we started with continues to be the main problem today,” Harris said, referring to the building’s leaky roof.
While the city contracted to patch areas of the roof, there will be another two- to three-week wait before the contractor can get back to the job site.
Harris said a crew has tarped areas of the roof that might pose immediate leak problems.
He added he had been working with Thompson to uncover grant opportunities for the building.
Until estimates for renovating the building and replacing the roof are gathered, funding sources are yet to be determined, according to Harris.
“We have salvaged the gymnasium floor, but we should get something in place at least over the gymnasium so that it won’t incur any more damage,” alderman David Belote said.
Harris added it was not just about protecting what was left of the building, but getting it ready for the community to be able to use the structure.
In other news, board members will consider a construction budget for water mains on Charger Lane. Wagster explained a contractor is building houses on the east side of Charger Lane, with four foundations already dug for houses.
There is only a one-inch water main on the west side of Charger Lane.
A rough estimate to put in a six-inch water main for Charger Lane, including a fire hydrant, is $17,235.
Alderman Terry Hankins asked Wagster what should be done to the area.
Wagster said putting in a water main is mandatory, but the project will pay for itself quickly with the addition of four to five additional houses using water service in the area.
The City of Martin will host clean up days April 16-21.
There will be a city flatbed crew helping Barker Bros. with debris pickup.
The Martin Beautiful Committee is also planning the clean up of areas throughout that week and asking businesses and residents to participate.
The City of Martin Board of Mayor and Alderman will meet in a formal session at 5:15 p.m. Monday in the city courtroom.

WCP 4.05.12

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