Lakeland updated on Bolton study, trash bids, senior center

Lakeland logoLakeland’s city board had a packed house for its May 1 work session. Some citizens left after trash bids were discussed, and a few others left after brief discussion of a much-anticipated feasibility study.

The study is designed to help Lakeland’s leaders decide whether to proceed with requests to annex the Bolton rural reserve area.

One group of Bolton residents proposed the annexation earlier this year, but vehement protests from their neighbors have kept the discussions lively at subsequent board meetings.

City manager Chris Thomas provided a high-level summary of the feasibility study and said he anticipates it will be available at the next meeting.

The area includes 2,010 residents and encompasses an estimated 34 acres.

Thomas also reported on the three bids received for management of the city’s trash, yard waste and recycling pickups. Bidders were Waste Pro (disqualified for not following bid requirements), Republic Services and Waste Connections, all of Memphis. Thomas checked references on the remaining bidders and got positive feedback on both.

Thomas recommended Republic, based on its lower bid and the good references. Both bidders spoke briefly to the board members, who agreed that Republic’s bid seemed like the best choice..

Lakeland Senior Center discussion

Several rows of elderly residents remained after the annexation and bid presentations, until the city’s Senior Center came up for discussion during public commentary.

Advocates asked the board to add a part-time employee to oversee the facility instead of relying on peer volunteers. They also asked the board to make hours longer and more regular. Board members Clark Plunk and Gene Torrey expressed strong support.

Mayor Wyatt Bunker said he expects the city to promote education and other city needs first, prioritized over recreational facilities like the senior center. He said he supports the center but is more enthusiastic about supporting a center that is open to all age groups, like the city parks are.

Several senior citizens objected, saying parks are for younger, more athletic people and they want their center’s usability expanded.

The center was built with grant funds that specified it must be used only for senior citizens, but that is only valid through 2018, Bunker said.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to