Whitwell Ponders Challenges of Upkeep on Walking Track

Whitwell, Tenn. – The Whitwell Board of Mayor and Commissioners assembled for the city’s July meeting recently and put the finish touches on some proposed rezoning ordinances. The City Manager also updated the Board on a number of issues. The Board was pleased to welcome back Fire Chief Todd Brown from a medical leave. The Board also undertook a conversation on the condition of the City Park’s walking track.

The Board approved, on the third and final reading, two ordinances originally recommended by the Planning Board. Both 355 and 356 passed without dissent. The Board was informed that the bid for the City’s rescue equipment elicited one respondent, Rescue One, according to Mayor Terry Parker. Commissioner Mike Dillon stated, “We’ve waited long enough for this day.” Dillon was asked to make a formal motion.It was quickly seconded and passed unanimously. Fire Chief Todd Brown, later in the meeting, reiterated the point that Whitwell was not attempting to replace the Marion County Rescue unit. “There’s been a lot of rumors floating around…about 95 percent of the rumors you’re hearing are false. For lack of a better word, they’re lies,” Brown continued, “We’re doing this to improve the Fire Department [and] improve the services and the manner in which we operate for the citizens of Whitwell. That’s our primary concern. We’re not doing this to put anybody out of business. Anyone that says otherwise is making a false statement.”

The Park Director, Rockie Brown, informed the Board that, in light of the COVID-19 concerns,  the Labor Day festivities that Whitwell is famous for will be contained to only the parade and the fireworks. The normal lineup of events that take place inside the park will not take place this year. Brown said she had invited a response from a number of people, including through social media. “Pretty much it was unanimous, everyone just wanted to have the parade and fireworks. Both of which they don’t have to leave their cars if they don’t want to…people are used to us having something on Labor Day so I would at least like to have the parade and fireworks.” The Board was supportive and authorized $2,000 to go toward the purchase of the fireworks.

Also, Mayor Parker brought to the Board a recurring problem the Park staff and the Commission have addressed for the past few years. The condition of the asphalt walking track has been plagued with criticism because of the trees surrounding the track, which provide the coveted shade but also have roots that are stronger than the asphalt. “I was approached by about four different people about the track at the park…no matter what you do in the Park you’re going to make some people mad and some people happy, that’s just the way it is. Common sense sets in and says that you got roots over there the track is not going to stay there.” The Board engaged in a lengthy discussion of the possibility of removing, especially the rotted trees, from around the track citing safety concerns for patrons of the park. Whereas no action was taken the questions of which trees would eliminate the damage to the track and whether to repair the track in segments or replace it at one time seemed to emerge as the top questions to be answered. Director Brown felt like it could be a two- to three-year process because of budget constraints. Brown and the Board agreed that more intentional efforts for information would be pursued.

The next regularly scheduled city meeting will be August 13, 2020, at City Hall located at 13671 Highway 28 and will start at 6:00 p.m.

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