Pipe Work Still Snarling Lookout Mountain, Ga., Roads, But Work On Town Center Pushes On

Friday, June 11, 2021 - by Gail Perry

Lookout Mountain, Ga. is in the middle of installing sewer, gas and water lines to meet current codes. The gas company discovered irregularities during the current work to replace old gas lines. When they were originally installed in the 1950’s, lines were laid above rock and gas lines were put inside sewer lines. Now the gas company is moving their lines two feet deeper, but stone must first be removed and that is causing delays in not only installing the new gas lines but also in locating other utility lines while repairs are ongoing.

It has been necessary to cut an opening across Lula Lake Road to find the buried lines and pipes. This has caused traffic through the city to be detoured for over a month. Despite the challenges caused by the road cut, Mayor David Bennett said that the city hall building is progressing well.

 

A plan to double the available parking for the Town Center is being considered. Oberon Trail, across Lula Lake, would be made a dead-end road where parking would be allowed. This would be an addition to the construction project and require a change order, said Council Member Arch Willingham. A meeting to get input from residents of Oberon will be planned.

 

Council Member Kevin Leckenby said that the intersection of Lula Lake Road and McFarland will be closed and excavated during the week of July 14 as the work continues. The gas line replacement on Hardy Road is continuing and may take up to an additional  two months to finish. After Hardy, work will follow on Fleetwood and Robin Hood. The utility companies are working longer hours in an attempt to get Lula Lake open for emergency vehicles. Work being done by the gas company is not expected to be finished until the end of the year or later, said City Manager Kenny Lee. A permitting process is being established that utilities will have to submit for right-of-way cuts in the future which will include drainage and stormwater requirements.

 

Mayor Bennett said that property reappraisals being made by Walker County have started arriving and home values have seen increases from 15 to 30 percent over the previous value. He said homeowners should not be alarmed because the millage rate will be lowered so that the taxes will not increase the full amount. That rate should be given to the city at the end of August or beginning of September. He also said that any homeowner can appeal the new assessed value.

 

Stormwater problems have been increasing in the city, and a stormwater committee headed by Councilman Tony Towns has been established to deal with them. At the June council meeting, Bill and Jane Colvin asked the city for help. They have had elaborate systems installed at their home at the intersection of Elfin and Rock City Trail, yet water continues to get into their lower level and floors have  been replaced three or four times due to water damage. Councilman Towns said that his team consists of people who do this for a living. The stormwater committee is tracing the flow of stormwater on GIS maps. The next step will be to establish a regular maintenance schedule for cleaning culverts and drains.

 

Some of the runoff problems involve county and state property in addition to those which are city owned. And some of the problems originate as far away as Scenic Highway, he said. Another cause is when neighbors place yard debris in ditches, which washes into the drains and clogs them. Hang tags have been ordered that the public works employees will attach to debris at the street, which is not in compliance with the city’s laws concerning debris disposal. Records will be maintained for addresses that are in violation. The mayor said, “We are begging for residents to not put debris in ditches or in the roadway.” It should be placed in the yard for the public works department to pick up.

 

Chief Todd Gann told the council that the training his department has been doing with the Lookout Mountain, Tn., Fire Department allowed the two departments to work together as well as possible during a recent major house fire. During the month of May there were four fire calls and 14 medical calls. The officers patrolled 3,564 miles, made 32 traffic stops, gave 18 citations and 14 warnings. There were four auto accidents during the month. There were 18 burglar alarms checked. Citizens were provided with assistance on 12 occasions, motorists five times and Lookout Mountain, Tn. Police seven times. Investigation was done on 10 suspicious persons and eight suspicious vehicles and there was one theft.

 

The second dumpster day at the new location was well supported and, because of the many projects taking place in the city, the recycling program in Tennessee will be continued for a while, said council member Leckenby, liaison with the public works department. During the summer, road striping and replacing reflectors will be done. The pavilion at Fairyland Elementary will be redocked and the press box repaired. When residents put disallowed debris in garbage cans such as paint cans and unbagged kitty litter, it will be tagged by the public works team. The new garbage truck was put into service on Tuesday, June 1.

 

A flagstone walkway and patio with wood benches is now complete at Our Mountain Garden, said Community Volunteer Jimmy Campbell, who headed the project. He said that there was $12,000-$13,000 left over from the $85,000 donation and $5,000 gift from a garden club that made the new park possible. He asked the council to allow having a fundraiser that could help with maintenance.

 

Mr. Campbell also is chairman of the Comprehensive Planning Committee. Two new members, Rebekah Hughes and Rhett Bentley, have been appointed to that panel.

 

On the second reading, a budget amendment was approved for unanticipated expenses during fiscal year 2020-2021, and the budget for 2022 was passed.


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