City eyes concerns on Boulevard crossing

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night discussed changing traffic patterns at the entrance to Walgreens on Brookway Boulevard.

Mike McKenzie, WGK engineer, recommended closing off the opening between westbound and eastbound lanes of traffic on Brookway Boulevard just before the intersection with Highway 51.

McKenzie said the turn lane from the westbound lanes does not line up with the entrance to Walgreens, creating traffic that opposes the eastbound lanes for approximately 50 feet. Further, traffic exiting Walgreens to head west will cross one side of the median, stop, and wait for the westbound lanes to clear. This creates situations in which cars are stopped in the eastbound lanes, he said.

McKenzie said the aldermen have three options in this situation: they can choose to leave it as it is, they can close the median or they can extend the lane to better accommodate turning across eastbound traffic. McKenzie advised against extending the lane because it will cause problems with the left turn lane at the intersection of Brookway and Highway 51.

Joe Fernald, city attorney, expressed concern because the opening of the median was created as a condition for Walgreens.

The board asked about the possibility of adding a no left-turn sign coming out of Walgreens. McKenzie recommended against this action because he believes it will not solve traffic problems. People who have been turning left out of Walgreens for years will likely continue to with or without a sign.

McKenzie estimated the cost would be less than $15,000 and likely between $10,000 and $12,000 to close the median. McKenzie said if a change is to be made, it needs to be done before the paving project of Brookway Boulevard is underway.

Various board members also expressed traffic concerns at other points along Brookway Boulevard, particularly at the entrance of Cracker Barrel.

“It’s like ‘Top Gun’ with cars,” Fernald said.

McKenzie said he would examine these areas and re-evaluate the Walgreens entrance to see if any other options exists.

In a statement released by Walgreens, Emily Hartwig said Walgreens will be happy to work with the city of Brookhaven to address any transportation concerns they might have.

In another matter, Clifford Galey, director of Lincoln County Civil Defense, said he has been dealing with some glitches with the siren system, but he believes it has been worked out. He said a special test of the sirens was to be held on Thursday at 12 p.m. to ensure that the siren system is working as it is supposed to.

Clifford Galey asked the board for permission to use downtown for the Lincoln County Volunteer Fire Association’s Hog Wild Festival and BBQ Cookoff May 30 to 31.

“We think it’s a great benefit for y’all, and we know it’s a great benefit to us,” Galey said, referring to the fundraising aspect for the volunteer fire association.

The board unanimously approved allowing the festival to be held downtown.

Brookhaven Police Chief Bobby Bell asked the board to revise the vehicle budget for the police department. The board previously approved the purchase of three vehicles and a budget of $50,000. Bell asked for $10,000 increase to cover the cost of the vehicles. He explained that he is not asking for money from the board but approval to shift money within the overall police department budget.

The additional $10,000 will come from the sale of old police cars, drug-seized money and the police department calendar sales. The board voted to allow this increase.

The board also approved the purchase of a $2,700 lawnmower for the police department and the purchase of 12 hand-held radios at $383 each.

Mary Wilson, Ward Three alderman, asked about a status update for the case involving Willie Smith. In April, Smith, the superintendent of the city’s solid waste department, was suspended with pay after an altercation with his supervisor Steve Moreton, the Brookhaven Public Works director.

Fernald said Smith’s court date Smith on a simple assault charge in connection with the incident has been set for June 4, and the board will take no action until after the trial is over to ensure Smith has a fair trial.

After the trial, the board will have the opportunity to hold hearings on the incident.

Boy Scouts Troop 122 from Faith Presbyterian Church were also in attendance at Tuesday night’s meeting to learn about city government.