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Mt. Juliet commissioners talk transportation

Jacob Smith • Jan 23, 2018 at 4:24 PM

The Mt. Juliet City Commission discussed two items related to transportation at its meeting Monday night.

One of the ordinances discussed was an ordinance to adopt the 2017 comprehensive transportation plan for the city of Mt. Juliet. Commissioner Brian Abston made a motion to suspend the ordinance for another 30 days to have time to further look at the plan.

“I think it’s a good plan; they just need some more time to look at it,” said Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin. “I would say that ultimately it will get implemented. There’s never a plan that comes through where you like every single part of it, so they want to look through it all.”

Next on the agenda was a resolution to approve the memorandum of understanding between the Regional Transportation Authority of Middle Tennessee and Mt. Juliet.

The resolution comes after a lengthy discussion between the organization and city about whether the city was paying its fair share of the fees for the Music City Star for the last four years.

Commissioners originally argued the payment was voluntary and had gone toward other city needs they felt were more pressing.

“We have to sit here and take our lumps from the newspapers,” said Commissioner Ray Justice. “At the federal level, we call it fake news. Unfortunately we have that also to some degree in Wilson County. What we were trying to do was to do something to enhance our community while the RTA used the federal government as a buffer, if you will, and a reason to not enhance the community and that’s what created the whole thing. That never came out, and I’m tired of it not coming out, and I guess the worst thing they can do is throw a rock at me.”

Following the meeting, Justice clarified his “fake news” comment.

“It was a slant. That’s all it was. It was slanted against us,” Justice said. “It’s just what tends to happen to Mt. Juliet.”

At Monday’s meeting, the commission approved the resolution, which said the city would pay $30,000 to the RTA, and the RTA would agree to expand parking at the Mt. Juliet station, as well as allow the city to incorporate a small park and city center in the corner of the parcel at East Division Street and Mt. Juliet Road. The park would also include a pedestrian trail connecting the station to Mt. Juliet Road.

The commissioners felt the payment was a donation and discussed the contract’s use of the word “obligation”. Justice proposed changing the wording to say the donation would be made annually “if approved” by the Mt. Juliet Commission.

“Just so it’s known out there that this is not a required annual thing,” said Abston. “This is an each year, we will look at it.”

“The intent of all this was for one thing: to enhance the train station and make a better experience for those who do choose to ride it,” said Mt. Juliet Mayor Ed Hagerty. “By expanding the parking lot and making other improvements, right now many of the riders have to park off-site and walk to the station, so this is going to make it a functional train station.”

The commission voted to approve the resolution unanimously with the amendment proposed by Justice. 

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