Aldermen focus on system updates

Published 10:46 am Thursday, April 16, 2015

Those serving on the city of Brookhaven’s Board of Aldermen are halfway through their four-year term and have taken a look back to reflect on what they have achieved and what they look forward to accomplishing in the future.

Aldermen Randy Belcher, Shirley Estes and David Phillips each cited the large undertaking of improving city sewer and water lines, as well as the much-needed paving of certain roads, as projects they have been focused on throughout this term. Each of the aldermen mentioned cooperation and good relations within the board as a reason they have been able to make progress on these larger, citywide issues.

Randy Belcher, Ward 1 alderman, said since he started he has been working to get annexed areas up to speed with the rest of the city.



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“My main focus when I got in was the places that the city had annexed that weren’t taken care of as well as the rest of the city. One of my main ones was the Brignall area,” Belcher said. “The roads were in bad condition. We didn’t own the water or sewer there, so there were a lot of things that they were having problems with that we couldn’t help them with.”

Belcher said soon the city will transfer ownership, and they will have access to the lines to begin improvements his ward needs to see done.

Belcher said most of his other efforts are geared toward paving roads in the area. He said much progress has been made in that respect, and he aims to complete more paving projects after sewer and water line improvements, as that construction will likely mean digging up roads.

“There are about six gravel roads that I’ve been working on to get them paved,” Belcher said. “We have a couple more but my goal was to make sure, before I leave office, that we have all the gravel roads within the city limits paved. I’ve been working hard on that and I’m hoping that in the next month or two they’ll see some progress on that.”

“I did about 85 percent of the paving from Ward 1 — Brignal area — and then after we get through with the water and sewer then we can work on some more roads.”

Shirley Estes, Ward 4 alderman, was re-elected in 2013 for her third consecutive term. She said in addition to laying the groundwork for infrastructure improvements and upgrades for Ward 4, she maintains a large part of her position by working closely with the people of the city.



“The biggest part of what I do is respond to the people in Ward Four and that’s been my goal: to respond quickly with their day-to-day needs,” Estes said. “And that includes water, sewer, roads, ditches, litter and the appearance of Brookhaven. I’ve been on the recycling committee, and we have made some progress with that, which is an ongoing project.”

Similar to other wards, the ongoing project of sewer and water improvement is something she regards as a high priority.

“Especially in the old town area of Ward 4, because it has some significant problems with very aged water and sewer lines, so there’s a plan for that [ongoing project],” she said. “And that would include the annexed areas and we’ve started working on that with running cameras through all of the city water and sewer lines.”

Estes also mentioned her work to lower the speed limit in a few areas of concern.

“I keep saying ‘me’ but I can’t do it alone — I couldn’t do anything without the department heads,” she said. “No alderman achieves anything alone, there always has to be cooperation between the mayor’s office and department heads and city workers. I think a lot of progress has been made towards those issues with the way we collaborate.

“It has been important to me to cooperate with the alderman from the other wards,” she continued, “because together we can achieve progress in the city of Brookhaven.”

Ward 6 alderman David Phillips said he has enjoyed working with the mayor and board the first half of this term, and he is especially proud of the progress being made during this administration.



“We have worked diligently to begin over $10,000,000 of water and sewer improvements to the annexed area, as well as improvements to the existing water and sewer infrastructure. This will be implemented over the next two years,” Phillips said. “The mayor and board will [also] begin a $2,000,000 paving project this fall to begin the process of better street maintenance.”

Phillips proposed the board make the $2 million project a priority in the last aldermen meeting, suggesting they allocate money to each ward to pave roads as needed, similar to what the board has done in the past.

Phillips said the mayor and board understand that they, as a city, must continue to remain competitive with other successful cities to provide jobs, opportunities and the quality of life the community should expect from city government. He cites the tourism tax referendum as progress.

“The tourism tax referendum was supported by the citizens, and will allow the city to remain competitive by bringing discretionary dollars from surrounding areas to Brookhaven,” he said. “This will help create jobs and a higher quality of life for the citizens.

“We have also worked to address ‘quality of life’ issues through park improvements, beautification, recycling, Healthy Hometown, and Safe Routes to Schools [programs] — which not only improves the quality of life but help create an image of a successful city.”

Phillips continued, “The mayor and board understand that our primary duty is not only to provide services to the citizens in the most efficient manner possible, but to prepare the city to be successful in the future.”