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VOL. 128 | NO. 201 | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

City Council to Vote on Bonds, Review Land Swap

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members this week take up $375 million in refunding bonds and general obligation bonds, and discuss a land swap with Church of the River for access to a boardwalk on the Harahan Bridge across the Mississippi River.

The council meets Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

On the agenda is a resolution for $225 million in general improvement refunding bonds and another resolution to issue up to $150 million in general obligation bonds for public works projects.

Memphis City Council members will view the terms of a land swap that will provide better access to the Harahan Bridge, far left, as part of the Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Meanwhile, at a 9:15 a.m. budget committee session, council members continue their discussions from two weeks ago about issuing $21.4 million in sanitary sewerage system revenue refunding bonds. Committee chairman Jim Strickland wants assurances in writing that it does not increase the city’s debt obligation as it pushed the debt into future fiscal years.

The city’s overall debt has been a concern of Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, who in May issued a report critical of the city’s finances, including the practice of refunding bonds to restructure some of the city’s debt. The restructuring actions Wilson highlighted are not the two actions the council has up for vote Tuesday.

Council members Tuesday also will view the terms of a land swap between the city and First Unitarian Church of Memphis, also known as Church on the River, at a 10:45 a.m. committee session.

The city of Memphis would give the church a portion of city riverfront parkland in nearby Martyr’s Park in exchange for a ribbon of church land bordering the Harahan Bridge and running next to Union Pacific railroad tracks.

The church land makes access to the bridge possible for those using a pedestrian and bicycle boardwalk on the north side of the bridge that is to be built as part of the Main Street to Main Street Multi-Modal Connector Project.

At the 9 a.m. public works committee meeting, council members get their first look at a resolution to appropriate $24.8 million for architecture and engineering work on an overhaul of the city’s wastewater collection and transmission system.

The $24.8 million is part of $250 million the city agreed to spend in April 2012 under terms of a U.S. District Court consent decree. The decree settled a civil suit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency over sanitary sewer overflows of untreated wastewater into the Mississippi River and its tributaries starting in July 2003.

The city has six years and seven months from when the EPA approves its plan to complete the improvements to the sanitary sewer system and the two wastewater treatment plants the city owns and operates.

The council also reviews plans Tuesday to shift a $7.5 million plan for constructing a new police traffic precinct into the rebuilt Raleigh Springs Mall property instead of the original plan to build the traffic precinct across the street from the mall site.

The 10 a.m. committee session and the other committee reviews are on items that should show up for votes before the full council Nov. 5 unless a council member moves to add them to Tuesday’s agenda.

The council votes Tuesday on the new McDonald’s to be built on the southeast corner of Highland Street and Southern Avenue in the University of Memphis district.

The new fast food restaurant would be built on a corner that had been home to Whatever smoke shop and, for more than 100 years, to the Southern Meat Market.

The meat market is moving south to a space on Park Avenue. And with demolition of the buildings along with new construction, McDonald’s will abandon its previous location nearby on the west side of Highland.

Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a special-use permit for a childcare center at 1135 Winchester Road for up to 60 children. The Land Use Control Board recommended against the permit.

And the council considers an amendment to the Kirby Gate Business Campus planned development for a new commercial building in excess of 3,000 square feet.

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