Fearing more ‘stormwater fails’

Povlin questions McFee $8 million

Fear of another “stormwater fail,” which has so far cost Town of Farragut more than $200,000 following the floodwaters experienced with heavy rain in February, was a concern expressed by Farragut Vice Mayor Louise Povlin.

She raised the subject during both a Budget workshop session and the regular meeting of Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Thursday, March 28.

Povlni first brought up the matter during the Budget workshop preceding the BOMA meeting, questioning why a suggested stormwater budget line item had only $100,000 projected funding for fiscal year 2020, while an expansion to McFee Park had $8 million.

“I don’t support putting $8 million to the McFee expansion when there is only $100,000 in the stormwater fund,” Povlin said. “We just had a stormwater fail” (referring to one in March on Red Mill Lane the Board voted to repair, which was the second in a month.

In looking at the proposed budget, she said, “I don’t want to nickel and dime the stormwater infrastructure.”

Povlin initially raised the stormwater issue at the March 14 regular Board meeting, and remained steadfast in her concern that a comprehensive stormwater assessment needs to be done town-wide.

“There is no one in this room who can tell us how big” the problem is, Povlin said.

Town administrator David Smoak told the board during the work session, and in previous meetings, that a report being developed by the University of Tennessee would likely not be available until June or possibly July. “I don’t know why we can’t make an estimate, and why we are waiting on UT,” Alderman Scott Meyer said.

Smoak explained the Town was waiting for the report “for a (suggested) priority schedule.”

“All the pipes are old and could collapse at any time,” Meyer said. “I just have a hard time (understanding why) we can’t figure this out. We need to be able to hear all the different options, and plan for the worst,” Meyer added. “I can tell you I will not support any budget without” that consideration.

Meyer suggested a spread sheet could be used to determine what potentially needed to be repaired, while Povlin suggested there be a master plan developed, similar to that used for park planning.

“When you look at a budget, it tells you what a town values,” Povlin said. “When you see the parks, you see that as the Town’s values, but we need to make the stormwater issue a priority, as well.

“We just can’t put it off any more.”

During the regular Board meeting, Povlin again brought up the stormwater issue, and cited it as the reason she voted against a contract to increase payment to McFee Park engineers Ross/Fowler P.C., who have been asked for additional work beyond the scope of its initial contract.

“If I had a full assessment of what was going on underground, we could go hogwild with plans at McFee, but the fact that we don’t know ... it upsets me to no end.”

At that point, discussion became heated between Povlin and Pinchok. “I have been working for nine years to get (McFee Park) done, and we are finally ready to move dirt, and you want it to stop,” Pinchok said.

“I am not telling you to stop,” Povlin responded. “I was in agreement to the $6.2 million plan.”

The Board voted 3-2 in favor of increasing the contract with Ross/Fowler based on the $7.715 million estimate for McFee Park, with Povlin and Meyer voting against.

Pinchok, Alderman Drew Burnette and Mayor Ron Williams voted in favor of the measure.

This week the group likely will discuss funding the stormwater line item again during the next budget workshop, which begins at 5:30 p.m. (today) Thursday, April 11, prior to the regularly scheduled 7 p.m. Board meeting.