BMA in Brief (Board Retreat) – February 23, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.

The BMA meet for a retreat session in the Economic and Community Development building on Saturday, February 23. No votes were taken and the meeting was not streamed via the usual methods. The meeting ran the full four hours.

Water Tower Discussion – Public Works Director Bo Mills and Assistant Director Andy Sanders gave a presentation about the need for an additional water tower. The discussion centered around the lack of a back up for the current water tower. Several risks associated with the lack of a back up tower included lack of fire support, air in the water mains causing damage to city and residential plumbing, and health risk associated with air bringing bacteria into the system. Sites were discussed including the new school and Forest Hill Irene south of Winchester. Alternatives were also discussed including an underground pumping system. We will write a separate blog post covering the details of this topic.

Sales Tax Issues – Discussion revolved around the state’s allocation of sales tax revenues. Issues were raised about the allocation of taxes collected via internet sales. The Tennessee Municipal League, a group of municipalities that advocate together at the state level, has submitted legislation to address the concerns of cities like Germantown. Germantown actually worked on similar legislation in prior years but lacked broader support across the state to see it approved. This will be a key item in the city’s legislative agenda in Nashville this year.

Legal Update – This was a closed door session for city officials only. The media and community members were required to step out of the room and remove their cameras.

Germantown Country Club – Parks and Recreation Director Pam Beasley gave a summary of the discussion held by the team that pulled together the Parks Master Plan. They met a couple of weeks ago to discuss the desire of the community to purchase the land and potential uses for the land. The group recommended purchase of the land however, potential uses would be decided after the purchase. The city has ordered an appraisal of the land and plans to respond to an RFP (Request for Proposal or Bid process) from the trustee of the land. This process will happen quickly over the next month or two. The city’s capacity to issue debt to purchase this land was also discussed. The Parks and Recreation Commission and Financial Advisory Commission will meet to address concerns in the coming weeks.

CIP & School Projects – The city has requested departments provide their proposed projects for the FY20 budget. There are 42 projects that have been submitted as part of this process and they will be prioritized in coming budget discussion. There is a work session scheduled for CIP (Capital Improvement Program) on March 27. There are several projects on the CIP list that will be dependent on prioritization by the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). The MPO is the local government organization that prioritizes Federal funds for municipal project.  As we reported earlier the city has made its list of requests for State and Federal funding and should receive the approved list in late May or June. The initial FY20 request for school projects total $7.2M including an expansion to Houston Middle School. The cost for the expansion at HMS were originally estimated to be $5M but need to be updated as construction costs have increased since the project was first put on the 5 year CIP plan. The city is also funding $200K per year for the next 5 years for the Houston High Field House. Other GMSD requests for FY20 include another $500K for security upgrades ($500K was spent in FY19) and $1.5M for boiler upgrades to Riverdale. To facilitate alignment Jason Huisman, the Assistant City Administrator, sits on the facilities committee for GMSD. The city is working with GMSD to build out their 5 year CIP needs and make sure the budget includes their requests.

Rules of Engagement – The only discussion on this topic was the mention of an orientation session with the new Parliamentarian, which will be on Monday before the BMA meeting.

Moratorium Update – This update was brief as it began with about 20 minutes left in the four hour session. No results were presented. Staff discussed that the focus had been on four major areas: Schools, Public Safety, Fire/EMS and Infrastructure/Transportation Systems. The city has gathered a lot of data and is working to process it into impact by district, not just an all up city level. Legal Counsel advised the Aldermen that any actions taken should be in line with or supported by the data. The Attorney cited that courts recently held that Covington’s apartment moratorium violated the Fair Housing Act as it wasn’t supported by the type of analysis currently being done by Germantown. Staff stated that the goal is to present the results from the study in April or May.

BMA in Brief – January 28, 2019

To help you stay informed we will do our best to provide high level summaries for the bi-monthly Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meetings. These summaries will be fact based with a focus on key items covered in the meetings and summaries of the votes taken. Where needed we will cover important discussions individually.Screen Shot 2019-01-27 at 9.18.11 PM.png

You can watch the entire meeting here. We have noted approximate times for each items for your convenience.

Mayor Palazzolo announced the National Council for Safety and Security in Washington, D.C. rated Germantown as the number one rated safest city in Tennessee. (begins approximately 21:00)

Recap of votes

9. Beer Board – On-premises consumption for Whitlows 7642 Poplar Pike – Approved 4-0 as Alderman Massey recused himself. (Begins approximately 21:45)

10. Consent agenda – Approved 5-0 with the GPAC Theater Seating moved to regular agenda as item 12 and Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Calendar moved from the regular agenda to Consent as item 10.d. (Begins approximately 27:09)

11. Appointment of Boards and Commissions Patrick Lawton, city administrator, explained when the BMA met in December to fill the board and commissions, both the Great Hall Commission and Historic Commission were not complete at that time; therefore, these positions are being brought before the board tonight. (Begins approximately 29:00)

a. Great Hall – Two members, Melanie Oest and John Wagner have reapplied. Alderman Massey is the liaison. He nominated the following: Susanne Riley-Catering, John Wagner-Corporate Business, John Peyton-Marketing, Tony Green-Operations, Lauren Boutwell-Retail, Russ Holland-Sales, and Melanie Oest-Hospitality.

Alderman Rocky Janda made a motion to amend the nominations to John Wagner, Lauren Boutwell, Russ Holland and Melanie Oest.

The amended motion passed 3-2.

b. Historic – There are three vacancies and two who have reapplied-Dale Hicks and Karen Rice. Alderman Massey is the liaison. He nominated the following: Sidney Khun, Marlene Strube and Sara Freeman.

Alderman Owens made a motion to amend the nomination to David Jackson, Dale Hicks, and Karen Rice.

The amendment passed 3-2.

12. Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Calendar – Presentation of the calendar as approved by the Financial Advisory Commission on 1/22/19 – Moved to Consent Agenda.

Item 12 became the GPAC Theater Seating. This item was included in the FY19 budget ($65k) and is the first phase of replacing the 25 year old seats in GPAC. An additional $40k is earmarked for phase 2 in the FY20 budget. Approved 4-1 (begins approximately 51:00)

13. City Attorney Agreement – Changing the current agreement with Burch, Porter & Johnson from a monthly retainer to billable hours.  Presentation by staff indicated that this methodology will allow the city to more accurately allocate costs between departments and potentially reduce costs.  Passed 4-1 (begins approximately 1:04:11)

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Want to Get Fit? Germantown has Choices!

It’s a running joke on social media that Germantown has too many pizza places. So it’s a good thing we have almost, if not more fitness choices.

Let’s take a look at the variety of fitness studio options in Germantown to meet any fitness level or price range.

ATC Fitness has locations all over the mid-south. In addition to the two Germantown locations, there are 14 in Tennessee, as far away as Jackson, and four in Mississippi with one as far away as Tupelo. ATC is open 24 hours and has a full complement of equipment both for cardio and weight training.

CycleBar offers a unique, high-energy, cycling experience for riders of all ages and fitness levels.

CrossFit SOPO Germantown offers a core strength & conditioning program that delivers “fitness that is by design, broad, general, and inclusive.”

The Exercise Coach is the latest fitness center to open in Germantown. They bill themselves as the “Smartest 20-Minute Workout In The World™.” The concept uses Exerbotics Connected Fitness technology. This tech-enabled training method uses scientifically customized strength and interval training. The technology adapts to abilities of any individual and is proven to be more effective than long-duration workout techniques.

F45 has not officially opened but will be coming soon. Originating from Australia, the concept combines elements of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Circuit Training, and Functional Training.

Germantown Athletic Center (GAC) is owned by the City of Germantown and provides a wide variety of services to its members. The GAC boasts an 8,500 square feet fitness area with state of the art equipment, certified fitness trainers, a three court gym, three courts for racquetball, indoor walking track, group fitness classes, a cycling room, a 40 meter indoor pool, dry saunas, locker rooms with separate areas for men, women and families, a cafe and an outdoor pool with a splash park. During January, you can join for $20.19 (regularly $99). For more information, (901) 757-7370.

HOTWORX is a virtually instructed exercise program using infrared heat. They offer either a 30-minute isometric workout or 15-min High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) session.

Iron Tribe Fitness blends one-on-one coaching with group fitness to deliver results. Iron Tribe’s 45-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) group classes are paired with one-on-one personal coaching.

Jazzercise has offered dance-based group fitness classes since 1969. The Germantown location is headed by long-time local instructor, Marion Dalton.

The Little Gym Even your kiddos can get fit in Germantown. Bring them to The Little Gym and let them run off some energy with their creative physical activities.

Orangetheory Fitness offers high intensity interval training classes designed to get your heart rate in the “orange” zone for a more effective and lasting workout.

The Owings Life Enrichment Center at Germantown United Methodist Church offers a variety of classes and has a full service gym and walking track. It is open to non-church members for a fee and has limited nursery hours.

Pike Yoga offers group classes and personal training. Their philosophy, “Attitude. Matitude. Gratitude.” comes from their practice of yoga.

Pure Barre classes offer a low-impact, full body workout concentrating on the areas women struggle with the most: hips, thighs, seat, abdominals and arms. Men are welcome too, if you want to improve your “Pure Barre shelf.”

Sumits Yoga classes are designed for all levels, beginner through advanced. Each yoga session aims to strengthen the core, increase flexibility and restore balance—all while you sweat out toxins, increase your blood flow and flush fat.

UFC Gym uses an approach that fuses mixed martial arts with state-of-the-art equipment and traditional fitness. They offer group fitness classes, private coaching, personal and group training, plus youth programs.

If you can’t afford a group class or center, no need to sit on your couch. Germantown has a variety of parks, nature areas and a Greenway ready for your exploration.

Germantown Road Realignment?… DOA until 2023

Almost a year ago, Germantown Voice began blogging as a way to engage in political conversations. Our first blog was about the Germantown Road Realignment Project.

This topic continues to pop up, usually as a part of an argument that the “current administration” doesn’t listen to citizen input. Even as late as October last year, there were social media posts saying the Germantown Road realignment project wasn’t dead.

Officially, it is dead until at least 2023. Why 2023? This is where it gets a little complicated. Every 3-5 years the city submits a list of proposed projects to the MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization). The MPO is the organization that prioritizes Local State and Federal funding for road and transportation projects in the Memphis Metro area. See the map below for the area covered by the MPO.

The list submitted this year is for projects between October 2019 and September 2023. The prior list was submitted to the MPO in 2013 and that was the list that included the Germantown Road Realignment project and McVay Road Realignment, both of which were not pursued due to community feedback. This year is the first opportunity for the city to submit their new list of priorities for funding of major road projects. Noticeably absent from the list is the Germantown Road Realignment. This is even after claims that last year’s resolution to kill the project were potentially just election year placations.

The time frame for MPO requests is long range due to the long range nature of projects. In many cases, it can take years for design, review, Right of Way acquisition and construction. These projects are important to the city as the majority of them are funded primarily or even wholly with State and Federal funds. In other words, these projects don’t impact your property tax rate.

Road projects are paid for a couple of different ways. First, is the paving of residential streets. The city pays for that as part of the Public Works budgets, roughly $2,000,000 a year. Next, is the work on major roads. These projects are funded with combinations of Local, State and Federal funds. This is where the MPO comes in to play.

When I saw the list of projects I had several questions about the priority of the funding and the MPO process. I sat down with City Engineer Tim Gwaltney last week to discuss the list and how the MPO works.

The MPO funds come from 3 to 5 main buckets. Traditionally, it has funded projects under three main categories, Bridges, Paving and Signalization. Germantown usually sees at least one of each of these types of projects funded. For example, even though the new traffic light at Houston High School is number six on the list it is the highest prioritized signalization project on the City’s list so it is likely to be funded. There are two new categories this year with funding for Safety Improvements and Plans & Studies. The prioritized list is below:

  1. Wolf River Blvd Mill/Overlay from Riverdale to Western City Limits $2.0M (80% Federal)
  2. Forest Hill-Irene Safety Improvements Poplar to Wolf River Blvd $5.0M (80% Federal)
  3. Poplar Culvert Replacements – Phase 5 $550K (100% Federal)
  4. Update City Major Roads Plan $200K (80% Federal)
  5. Intersection Safety Audits $200K (80% Federal)
  6. Signalization Wolf River Blvd @ Houston High $500K (100% Federal)
  7. Signal Upgrades $2.5M (100% Federal)
  8. Neshoba Road Mill/Overlay from Germantown Rd to Exeter $1.5M (80% Federal)
  9. McVay Road Bridge Replacement (just north of McVay and Messick) $600K (80% Federal)

The city will not get official word on which projects are approved by the MPO until near the end of the budgeting process for the city. We will keep an eye on the process and let you know what gets approved from the MPO as soon as we find out. You can find out more detail about each of these projects by following the link below.

https://gtown.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=c75ea4248dc44953b9dcc2287f85670a

For even more information on the City of Germantown’s Transportation Improvement Program funding requests for 2020 to 2023, please attend the public meeting  January 9 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Economic and Community Development Building, 1920 South Germantown Road. Learn more here.

Germantown Country Club Closing

Multiple sources have provided us with copies of this letter that was sent to members of the Germantown Country Club.

With this announcement there are bound to be plenty of questions about the future of this property. First let’s cover some facts about the property.

  • Owner: Mary C Anderson Revocable Living Trust
  • Size: 178.6 Acres
  • Zoning: Currently Zoned Residential
  • 2018 Assessed Value $1.6 Million
  • Substantial part of the land is in flood zone

The big question everyone has is what will happen to the land and what will be built there? All we know for sure is that the club is ceasing operations. The owners have provided no indication what they intend to do with the land. They could choose to do some sort of development on their own or they could sell the land whole or in pieces. An appeal to change the zoning would be needed for anything other than residential development. Even a PUD (or Zero Lot Line Homes) would require review and approval of the Board of Zoning and Appeals, Planning Commission and Board of Mayor and Aldermen. For that matter, even a residential neighborhood would need approval.

We probably will not see detailed plans until the owners begin the process for approving any of their proposed changes to the property. We will be watching this closely and helping you stay informed about what plans come forward for this land.

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https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search?AddressQuery=Germantown%2C%20TN#searchresultsanchor

GMSD Board Update – December 18, 2018

The GMSD met on Tuesday December 18, 2018 with key items on the agenda being the swearing in of board members, transfer policy and election of a board Chair.

Rebecca Luter was elected Board Chairperson, Amy Eoff was elected Board Vice Chairperson and Angela Griffith was elected the Tennessee Legislative Network Representative. Here is a summary of how they voted.

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The meeting was a marathon, lasting nearly three hours. The majority of time was spent presenting an update on the Bullying Task Force and efforts the District has made to address the concerns of stakeholders. More on bullying below.

Two citizens addressed the Board during Citizens to Be Heard. One discussed concerns about the transfer policy and the other discussed the need for leadership in selecting the role of Board Chair. (Start CTBH – 2:15:10)

The board approved the purchase of HVAC equipment to support the replacement of the Riverdale Boiler. An additional quote will need approval for installation of the equipment.

The Board approved the Legislative agenda. The Board was deliberate to leave some flexibility in that agenda as laws proposed by the legislature my result in shifting priorities.

The Intra District transfer policy was discussed and approved on second reading. There was discussion around the impact on students with special needs. There were concerns specifically with capacity at Farmington. Jason Manuel presented a summary of potential impacts.  (Transfer Discussion 2:26:00 Approximately 25 minutes)

The election of Board Chair, Vice Chair and Legislative Network Representative.  

Bullying Continued…

The bullying update was presented at both the executive session and during the board meeting. Both presentations ran about 50 minutes however there were some interesting insight provided by Mr. Dan Haddow in the board meeting as he was returning from Nashville and only made it in for the last few minute of the Executive Session. Links to both are provided below. One take away was that there is a focus on whole child. If you have concerns about bullying, I highly encourage you to watch these presentations to see what efforts are being made by GMSD. Abigail Warren provides a good summary of efforts over at the Daily Memphis.  Germantown Board of Education expands anti bullying efforts to include mental health

Board Meeting Bullying Presentation: (Starts 1:24:34)

Executive Session Bullying Presentation: (Starts 10:51)

Personal Note:  Angela Griffith approached me after the meeting to discuss an error in one of my pre-election blogs. I incorrectly stated that she and Brian Curry shared the same campaign manager. I have corrected that blog and noted the correction on the bottom of that page as well. I strive to be factual and this was an honest mistake. I appreciate this respectful conversation. This is the type of conversation that moves our community forward from a contentious election cycle. Thank you Mrs. Griffith.

CommUNITY Breakfast

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On Saturday December 8, 2018 Germantown Baptist Church hosted a Community Breakfast. The breakfast was an effort to begin the process of bringing the community together after a contentious election and was the result of conversations between the Mayor and City Chaplin, Dr. Fowler. Graciously, Dr. Charles Fowler and the Germantown Baptist Church Congregation served those in attendance providing hospitality and free breakfast. We asked Dr. Fowler about why GBC stepped up to host this event and he said, “we felt that an event where our community could come together, encourage and give hope would help build unity and help to heal some of the divisiveness of the election season.” We would like to extend our thanks to Germantown Baptist and Dr. Fowler for hosting this event.

There were four guest speakers we have provided links to videos of their speeches below for those who were unable to attend.

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Elected officials in attendance included Mayor Palazzolo, Alderman-elect Sanders, Alderman Owens and Alderman Janda. Recognized guests included former County Mayor Mark Luttrell and former Germantown Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy. We estimate the attendance to be around 125.

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