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Board establishes ‘Obama’ task force

Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen agreed to establish a temporary task force to identify possible projects to receive money from President Barack Obama’s proposed stimulus plan.

“This stimulus bill is an opportunity for the Town to think much more broadly than just the simple things … like roads,” Farragut Municipal Planning Commission chair Robert “Bob” Hill said.

“The charm of the bill … is that we are a Town that’s all about infrastructure … this bill is tailored for us,” he added.

Mayor Eddy Ford and Town Engineer Darryl Smith already have sent a letter to state representatives and Tennessee De-partment of Transportation and Transportation Planning Organ-ization leaders, stating four “shovel ready” projects.

Campbell Station Road improvements, the intersection at Kingston Pike and Everett Road, the widening of Everett from Union to Smith roads and phase II of McFee Park all made the list.

“These type of projects … are prime examples of how stimulus plan funds may be applied to projects at this stage,” Ford said.

But Hill said the stimulus plan also was a good chance to get funding for projects that were a little more out of the box.

“As a citizen, I want to move us beyond roads,” Hill said, adding he would like to see “broad planning without any bounds.”

As the stimulus plan evolves, it would be wise, he added, to have a committee meeting regularly that could amend the list of projects as needed.

“This is an extremely unique and fluid moment in time and the Town would be remiss not to be positioned to act quickly as things evolve and change quickly,” Alderman John Williams said.

“I think it’s a very smart idea to have a group of people meeting regularly, reviewing our on-the-books projects, reviewing projects we may not even have thought of and that could be implemented quickly.

“We ought not sit down and hold ourselves bound to five-year capital plans when we don’t know what will happen in March, much less September,” he added.

Vice Mayor J. Michael Haynes agreed, saying stimulus plan funding will depend on how the plan defines “infrastructure.”

“We need to be able to come up with some creative responses to how they define that,” Haynes said.

Haynes commended Ford and Smith for identifying necessary and “shovel ready” projects, but said, “It makes sense to me as well to have some smaller, more responsive citizen group … to at least be looking around, mentioning computer enhancement and energy-efficient upgrades in buildings as possible definitions of infrastructure.

Ford recommended staff and Town committees come up with ideas, asked Hill to chair the ad hoc task force and said he and Hill would draft a charter for the new committee.

“We ought to be able to be more responsive and move quicker than large cities,” Haynes said.


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