Mayor Photo

Mt. Juliet Mayor James Maness is sworn into office on Monday, accompanied by his wife, Tracy, and daughters Katelyn and Hailey.

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners granted final approval on an agreement with Grace United Methodist Church on Monday to create the city’s newest public park.

Grace Park Village measures approximately 10 acres on the church’s property at 2905 N. Mt. Juliet Road and will be leased to the city for 30 years. In exchange, the city will pay $1 per year and take responsibility for mowing the church property.

Mt. Juliet Parks Director Roger “Rocky” Lee previously outlined his vision for the property at the commission’s Oct. 12 meeting and said it would cost roughly $250,000. A time frame on the work remains uncertain.

“We’re basically going to open it up into a big greenway,” he said. “A lot of green space with walking trails that come up and reach up to Mt. Juliet Road’s sidewalks, put in a couple pavilions … we are talking about putting in, again, some multi-use fields and stuff.”

Commissioners were initially wary of approving the agreement because it allowed Grace UMC to terminate the lease without cause by giving 60 days’ written notice.

“I just spoke to the pastor, via text, oddly enough, and told him about the concern we had with the 60-day clause,” Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenny Martin said. “And he said we could take that out and they were ready to get it done.”

Mt. Juliet City Attorney Gino Marchetti recommended removing that clause, and commissioners passed the amended version unanimously. Potential park agreements for the 57-acre Tomlinson property on Beckwith Road ($975,000) and the 20-acre Hayes property on SW Cook Road ($1.4 million) remain on the back burner.

“If you defer each of these … then they’ll go back to planning commission,” Marchetti told the commission before the items were removed from Monday’s agenda. “That’s a long and involved process. So if there’s an issue — I believe with the Tomlinson property that there’s another buyer that’s interested — I think they’re interested in getting something on paper, some commitment from the city even though it has to come back to the planning commission and that back up to us at the Dec. 28 meeting, I think it would be, for consideration again.”

The meeting also saw Mt. Juliet Mayor James Maness formally sworn into office, alongside District 1 Commissioner Ray Justice, District 3 Commissioner Scott Hefner and District 4 Commissioner Jennifer Milele.

Maness previously held the commission’s District 2 seat, so the city will need to appoint someone to fill out his term. He suggested accepting applications through Dec. 28, then making nominations and voting at the Jan. 11, 2021 meeting.

“I would recommend we talk about and perhaps even bring back something to set the rules for how we want to do this,” he said. “It’s pretty open-ended about how we make this appointment, and bring back something for the next meeting to be voted on. I would recommend limiting the debate, setting a debate limit on that of 30 minutes for the items so we can move along, so as not to potentially have a stare-down and a need to eat dinner at the table.”

The Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners’ next regularly scheduled meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, in the city’s administration building at 2425 N. Mt. Juliet Road.

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