PORNWS-07-15-20 COUNCIL PHOTO

The Portland City Council passed a resolution at its meeting on July 6 that will turn the traffic lights in the city to flashing lights during certain periods of time.

The Portland City Council unanimously approved the modification of traffic signals on Highway 109 during its July 6 meeting.

The resolution allows modification of traffic lights to flashing signals during specified times.

“That’s something that we’ve talked about that may be a possibility for the city of Portland ... as we start growing, start seeing more red lights in the area,” said Portland Mayor Mike Callis.

The resolution applies to traffic lights along Highway 109 at Fountainhead Road, Longview Drive, Market Street, McGlothlin Street and College Street. Those lights will go flashing from 11 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Callis added that the city was working on a $750,000 grant through the Tennessee Department of Transportation to connect Portland’s traffic lights via fiberoptics.

“Once that gets installed, it should make timing of red lights and how we manage traffic much better through our community,” Callis said.

The council also approved on second reading an amended ordinance to charge sewer customers in the city of Mitchellville the same rate as Portland residents, effective July 1. The current rate structure is $28.75 for usage up to 2,500 gallons and $11.50 per thousand gallons for usage over 2,500 gallons.

Thomas Dillard motioned to amend the ordinance to cut that increase in half for now and institute the full increase on January 1, 2021.

“Working with our neighbor city, I feel like that’s just as important as fighting for all the citizens,” Dillard said.

Another ordinance passed on second reading rezoned property at 925 North Broadway from residential to corridor mixed use.

Among other measures passed was the approval of a liquidity policy for the municipal water and sewer utility that requires the department to maintain at least 25% of its annual budget in fund balance. The utility already meets that standard.

The council also approved the purchase of a crew cab dump truck at a cost not to exceed $67,000, the purchase of trash carts, a contract on first reading for replacement of water lines on W.B. Dye Road and the replacement of a sewer lift station on Highway 109 for $77,875.

Also approved was the appointment of Jim Donoho to the Portland Municipal-Regional Planning Commission.

The conveyance of half-interest in the real property of the Portland Public Library to Sumner County was deferred until an agreement on maintenance could be reached between city and county authorities.

A $667,700 contract for the construction of Phase 1 of the south parallel taxiway at the Portland Municipal Airport also received approval. Five% of that total — or $22,829 — will be funded by the city, with the rest coming from the state and federal governments.

After lengthy discussion, Callis added that the city would hold off preparations for its upcoming Music on Main festival, which had been scheduled for July 16.

“The plan we are working on is to move it to the back parking lot behind the Farmers Bank branch, what we use as a (Portland city) business office now,” Callis said. “We think if people will stay in their household groups, there won’t be much intermingling.”

The mayor said he had hoped the added space would encourage social distancing and still allow the outdoor event to proceed.

Councilman Brian Harbin said that he was concerned about the number of people who would probably attend the festival, which could be higher than normal.

“Everybody is grasping on to anything that they can do,” Harbin said. “They’re trying to get out of the house.”

Portland City Attorney John Bradley said that it would be difficult to enforce Sumner County’s mask mandate and social distancing, saying, “It would put staff in a difficult position…”

The council did approve tentative funding for a fireworks show as part of the October 10 fall festival, using the funds that would have purchased the fireworks for the May Strawberry Festival that was canceled.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for July 20.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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