Bridges, buildings, and budget in Cornersville

Wednesday, July 12, 2017
The town of Cornersville recently closed the East Hill Street bridge out of concern that its condition posed a safety hazard for residents.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

The Cornersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen had a full slate of business at their monthly meeting on Thursday, focusing on the town’s budget and the state of various structures around town.

Aldermen unanimously accepted the proposed budget and tax rate on first reading, for the coming year.

The 2017-18 budget proposal calls for $401,147 in expenditures on projected revenue of $459,651.

The property tax rate for Cornersville will mirror decreases seen across the county after the recently completed property reassessment.

The rate will decrease from $1.0313 per $100 of assessed value to $ .9410.

Second and final reading of the budget will take place at the August 3 board meeting.

That meeting should also provide residents with some answers about the bridge project on Hatchett Hollow Road.

Property owners along Hatchett Hollow Road and April Lane have seen stakes appear in their yards as a result of surveys for the project.

In some cases, the markers cut deeply into lots, placing them close to homes.

Town Administrator Scotty Brock said that there had been a “lot of upset citizens” as well as questions and confusion about what the markers represented.

“They really haven’t given us any answers,” Brock said about the contractor, in response to the town’s questions.

No one is certain if the stakes are marking the right-of-way of the road or if they indicate where the roadway will actually run once completed.

Representatives of the project have committed to attend the next meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to address these concerns.

The much delayed project will replace the bridge on Hatchett Hollow Road, as well as adjusting the intersection of April Lane with Hatchett Hollow Road to improve visibility for drivers pulling onto the road.

The town has already paid it’s 20 percent matching funds for the project over the last couple of years.

The rest of the funds for the $500,000 project are federal dollars passed through the state transportation department.

Aldermen also discussed the status of the East Hill Street bridge, which the town recently closed to foot traffic.

The bridge running over the CSX rail line is an old trestle road bridge that was closed to car traffic more than 20 years ago.

The bridge has remained open for foot traffic since that time but the condition of the bridge has town leaders concerned.

Time and apparent vandalism have made the structure a safety hazard, according to the town.

One resident contacted Mayor Melisa Peters with their concerns about missing railings and the wooden deck which felt increasingly unsafe.

The town repaired the railings, but also decided to close the bridge entirely to foot or bike traffic.

Per an agreement with CSX, the town is responsible for the bridge, and the town will investigate their options for dealing with the bridge’s condition.

The town has also begun the process of addressing distressed properties in town.

Brock updated the aldermen of the steps the town has taken so far.

Six properties were identified as needing attention by the town.

“These are houses that haven’t been lived in for a long time, hadn’t had water, sewer, or electric for a long time, and most of them are run down really bad” said Brock.

One is already being demolished, and another has renovations underway.

Owners of the four remaining properties each met with Brock to discuss options for the homes.

The four have until July 31 to submit a written plan of action, either demolition or repair, before the town moves forward with it’s own options, spelled out in the town’s ordinance for uninhabitable properties.