By Bill Short
The Millington Municipal Planning Commission has approved the Site Plan and Final Plat for the Big Creek, Shelby County National Disaster Resilience Project.
Commission members took the actions on separate motions during their March 16 regular monthly meeting. Each motion was passed by four affirmative votes, with Brenda Barber, Chairman Chuck Hurt Jr. and Mayor Terry Jones absent.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development advertised grant opportunities through its National Disaster Resilience Competition.
Shelby County was one of 67 communities in the nation eligible to apply for the grant and one of 40 that qualified to proceed to the review stages of that opportunity.
In January 2016, the county was notified that it would receive $60 million. The following month, Millington was informed that it would receive $29 million of that grant.
Both the county and the city have contributed the required local matching funds.
Charles Goforth, planning consultant for the city, told the commission that the Site Plan is for the overall development, as well as a portion of the land on the Highway 51 frontage that will be purchased from Carey Parham.
Because that purchase will leave tracts that are smaller than 4 acres, Goforth said they have to be a subdivision.
He noted that the Site Plan is divided into three areas.
Area 1, which extends from Highway 51 to Raleigh-Millington Road, will be maintained by the city. It will have an amphitheater, stage, restroom building, soccer fields, parking and a disc golf course.
Goforth said access will be provided by a new street to be named Armitage Drive that will extend about 750 feet from the highway to the property. A cove will be provided at the east end of the access to the site, and there will be drives within the park.
Public water will be extended under Big Creek and public sewer from existing lines west of the highway and across it at the end of the cove.
Construction of a pedestrian bridge over Big Creek has been proposed to connect the area near the Millington Public Works building north of the creek to the park south of there.
Goforth noted that “significant modifications” will be made to the highway to accommodate this access, which will be right-in/right-out only.
“The elevations of the two sections of the highway are totally different,” he acknowledged. “So, it cannot be a crossing where you’ve got a left turn in and a left turn out.”
Goforth said he thinks those highway improvements have already been approved by the state, and they will be made by the county as a part of the Resiliency Grant.
Area 2, which extends from Raleigh-Millington to Singleton Parkway, will be more of a natural recreation area, with wetlands and wildlife observation. It will include trails, a shelter and a boardwalk in the environmentally sensitive area.
Goforth said access to it will be provided by Jones Boyd Road, which extends from Raleigh-Millington to Singleton.
Area 3, extending from Singleton to Sledge Road, will include wetlands and trails and is the primary flood control component of the project.
Trevor Cropp of Barge Design Solutions in Memphis, the consulting engineer for the county, said Area 1 improvements have been proposed to make the existing Millington levee more resilient to flooding.
Cropp said Area 1 will have several pedestrian bridges and trails, as well as a playground on its western edge.
He noted that there will be a “grade change” for the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway.
But U-turns will be installed north of Big Creek and south of state Route 385 for southbound motorists seeking to enter the park or those exiting it to turn south.
Cropp also said he has been coordinating with the Canadian National Railroad in an effort to fix the “blowout” area that is downstream from the railroad tracks. He noted that it has been a safety concern of Millington Fire Chief Gary Graves.
“It’s also encroaching upon the existing levee,” he said. “So, we’re going to work with the railroad to try to do some things to help protect the current and proposed infrastructure there.”
Cropp said he is “partnering with some national entities” in an effort to program Area 2 and provide educational opportunities. And he noted that Area 3 will be designed for detention of the floodwaters upstream of the city and Naval Support Activity Mid-South.
Commission member Mike Caruthers asked about the time frame for completion of the project.
Cropp said the county is in the midst of acquiring the property and obtaining permits from the state departments of Transportation and Environment and Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He expects that will take until the end of the summer.
Tom Needham, engineering consultant for the city, said the project will be divided into separate bid packages. He noted that Cropp is working toward completing the design for Area 1 by the end of this month so it can be advertised for bids.
“Bids will come in around May,” he said, “with the stipulation to the bidders that we’ll award the contract when we get the property.”
Needham said the city expects to seek approval from the Shelby County Commission in July, and it hopes to have a contract awarded by Sept. 1.
“Trevor’s got a lot of initiative and drive,” he noted. “He’s able to herd cats occasionally with the Corps, TDOT and TDEC talking on a routine basis and actually having them moving the same way he would like to go.”
Goforth said the Final Plat separates the properties, creates the new street and provides for the sewer and water extension. On his recommendation, the commission approved it with the following conditions:
(1) The cove should have a radius of 60 feet.
(2) The street, water and sewer improvements shown on the Site Plan will be made by the county as a part of the Resiliency Grant.