Hwy 31 & Interchange Progress
Spring Hill’s new I-65 interchange was in the news last week with the Design-Build contract being awarded by TDOT to Bell & Associates.
In the Design-Build delivery process, the prime contractor partners with a designer to develop final design plans and complete right-of-way acquisition, permit approvals, utility relocation, and construction. Bell & Associates have partnered with engineering firm Neel-Schaffer for the interchange project and the tentative schedule is as follows.
January 2021 – Fall 2022 Project design
Spring 2021 – Fall 2022 Right-of-way acquisition, permit approvals, and utility relocations
Spring 2022 – Spring 2023 Construction
But don’t let the interchange news distract you from some good progress being made to widen Hwy 31. TDOT is finalizing their technical report as the NEPA phase begins to wrap up. Spring Hill should have the draft report by the end of January. In the interim, draft functional layouts are now available and should begin to provide a visualization as to where/how a 5 lane Hwy 31 will be provided.
Interim City Administrator Appointed & Search Update
Pam Caskie will be Spring Hill’s Interim City Administrator.
Ms. Caskie has served multiple communities in Vermont, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Tennessee over the length of her career and in a variety of different roles. Ms. Caskie will begin her duties next week, and will serve until the BOMA make a permanent hire.
Speaking of which…. MTAS will be assisting Spring Hill in the search for a permanent hire. BOMA will conduct all interviews and ultimately make the hiring decision, but MTAS will provide administrative assistance. You can see the job posting here.
5 Questions to Ask Candidates
The period to submit a petition for the April 8th election will come to a close on January 21st. Identifying and voting for the high quality candidates is the only way to ensure we have a high quality BOMA. Here’s 5 Questions to Ask Anyone Running for Mayor or Alderman.
In random order:
What is one step you would take to improve Spring Hill’s finances?
A candidate should be able to answer this question quickly. If they take too long to come up with a response that’s a red flag. Generic answers without specifics like “Cut wasteful spending” are also a red flag and show that the candidate doesn’t have a full understanding of the current budget or financial picture. (To be clear, cutting wasteful spending is a great idea, but the candidate should be able to identify the waste he/she wishes to target and not just make a generalized statement or promise to find the waste later.)
What criteria will you use to make decision on appointments to Boards and Committees? Or hiring a City Administrator?
This is more important for Mayoral candidates, as the Mayor solely appoints the Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and most Alderman on committees. Look for answers that focus on identifying key professional skills and strengths, and not just favor to friends & acquaintances. Given that a new City Administrator will be hired post April 8th, the question should have added importance.
What overlooked challenge is Spring Hill facing, and how will you address?
Anyone can identify traffic as a challenge, but what off the radar issues should BOMA be solving? Identifying the challenge is only the initial step, can the candidate identify a realistic plan on how to improve?
If you could change one thing about the Unified Development Code, what would it be?
Again, how quickly a candidate can supply a thoughtful answer is important. This is an indication that the candidate is familiar with the existing entitlement process and has concrete plans on how to improve Spring Hill. Changes limited to maps (ie: “I would change the zoning of…”) is a sign that the candidate doesn’t understand the code or law and is a red flag.
How do you plan on engaging with citizens?
Local officials should accessible, and not just when they need your vote. Again, look for real plans and actions, not just talking points or vague commitments.
Bonus question for Alderman running for Mayor or for re-election:
What is one accomplishment during your past term that would not have occurred without you?
Serving on the BOMA is a team sport, but individual contributions matter. Anyone who is currently serving should be able to point out at least one (and preferably more) resolution, ordinance, or committee outcome they were responsible for. If they can’t, it’s time to give someone else a chance. Answers like “I supported/voted/advocated for road/utility/public safety projects” are equally bad unless the incumbent can identify something specific that they were responsible for in the project.