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Bartlett gives $315K for BCS land buy

At a Dec. 13 meeting, Bartlett’s mayor and city board helped their school district buy soccer fields, swore in a new employee and honored another, heard a tribute to the city’s history and its sesquicentennial celebrations this year, accepted the resignations of two unhappy citizens from an advisory board and conducted other city business.

The board approved a one-time transfer of $315,000 to Bartlett City Schools so the district can buy soccer fields from Bartlett United Methodist Church. The site backs up to W.J. Freeman Park and consists of 10 acres on Ferguson Road, at the corner of Ferguson and Shelby. Long-range plans are for the existing soccer fields to be developed into an upscale soccer complex for the school district.
The board’s meeting was at Bartlett Station Municipal Center this month because of ongoing renovations at City Hall. All board members were present except for Alderman Paula Sedgwick, who was ill and unable to attend.

Honoring city history

Suzanne Griffith Coleman of the Bartlett Historical Society also paid tribute to the city’s history in light of Bartlett’s sesquicentennial this year. The meeting date was on the exact anniversary of when the bill passed to incorporate Bartlett—Dec. 13, 1866.

“It is significant we are meeting tonight in a location other than City Hall,” Coleman said. “Back in 1866, there was no City Hall and probably no public buildings in Bartlett, and town meetings were held in businesses or homes.”

Bartlett covered about a square mile then and was home to about 100 people, she said. A new charter in 1993 changed Bartlett’s legal title from town to city. By then, it had grown to about 15.5 square miles and approximately 30,000 residents. Coleman noted that City Clerk Stefanie McGee brought the certified copy of the city’s charter to the meeting for public viewing. A map on display showed the city’s original boundaries.

“It’s always fitting to remember our past,” she said. “And as we come to the end of the sesquicentennial year, we would like to thank the mayor and Board of Aldermen for providing the opportunity for our citizens to discover and celebrate the rich heritage of Bartlett through all the events of 2016.”

Special recognitions

Also at the Dec. 13 meeting, Mayor A. Keith McDonald recognized Paul Wright, program manager for the Bartlett Recreation Center, for receiving the Tennessee Parks and Recreation 2016 Special Events Award. BRC Facility Manager Michael Goldberg said the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association met in Memphis recently and recognized a special BRC program that Wright has taken over. The Small Fry Tri is a triathlon for children ages 2-6, who run, bike and “swim” (run through a big sprinkler).

Goldberg praised Wright’s resiliency and his efforts to ensure that nearly 80 children participated this August.

McDonald also swore in Michael Bollinger as the new director of the Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center.

Differences of opinion

Later in the meeting, two members of the BPACC Advisory Board resigned over recent undisclosed disputes with the mayor’s office.

Beverly Holmgren of Bartlett resigned after close to 20 years of service on the BPACC Advisory Board. “The mayor and I have disagreed about recent events and I have the correspondence to prove it, and while I still disagree about recent decisions, and even more so I disagree about the process, I do agree with you that I need to resign. And I will.”

She said she has no hard feelings and hopes that this is reciprocated.

LaQueta Ferguson also resigned from the advisory board in the aftermath of a November meeting with the mayor and Mark Brown, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“I truly felt unappreciated and disappointed in the leadership of my city,” she said. “The board made every effort to help the director as much as they could. We didn’t give up on him. We continued to offer our assistance. But I do not feel that I can continue to be a board member under the circumstances. BPACC is a beautiful and enjoyable place in our city. And I will continue to invite friends and guests to enjoy the selections that we offer there. Personally, I am not used to being questioned as to my intentions in a position. I am not perfect, but I strive to be Christ-like in all my endeavors. And I am offended and find it necessary to tender my resignation.”

Lorraine Williams of Bartlett, another BPACC Advisory Board member, spoke up to thank both Holmgren and Ferguson for their years and time of service.

“We have a great board,” she said. “We are going to miss them, and I thank them very much for all that they’ve done.”

After hearing the remarks, McDonald said, “Sometimes we’re like a big family. We do have falling outs, but we go on. And as Beverly said, we’ve known each other a heck of a long time, and we’ve not always agreed on everything; this isn’t the first time. But I certainly do want to thank Beverly and LaQueta for their time. … We appreciate the activities that have gone on, and we look forward to our new director and some wonderful seasons ahead of us.”

Both women declined to comment or clarify the nature of the disagreement after the meeting.

Other business

In other business, the board approved:

  • Buying a replacement auto control valve for the Rivercrest Water Storage Tank at a cost of $14,523.28.
  • Buying $10,108 in ammunition for the Bartlett Police Department. The seller was Gulf State Distributors, a vendor on the state bid list.
  • Accepting the lowest bid of $40,605 from ComServe Wireless to equip eight police vehicles.
  • Buying 33 conversion kits for city vehicles with portable radios. The city accepted the $37,047 bid proposal from AMK/Harris, the sole source vendor for these kits.
  • Accepting Ross Witt LLC as the architectural designer for Bartlett Recreation Center’s partial roof replacement. The $11,500 proposal is to provide design services for the BRC’s high roof replacement (an overlay, not a full tear-off) over the gymnasium and swimming pool.
  • Accepting the Planning Commission Report for December 2016.

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

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