March 11, 2004
Property Dispute Points Out City Council Has Little Control Over Marshal Job
A recent disagreement between landowners on North Market Street has revived the idea of changing the Memphis City Marshal from an elected office to a position controlled by the city council.
A dispute over property lines in the neighborhood has led to bad feelings between several of the residences of the region. Lorna Robinson has attended numerous council meetings to discuss a variety of issues related to her property in the neighborhood.
Initially a neighbor had begun construction on their property only to learn that concrete for the proposed project actually fell on Robinson’s property.
Since then other problems have arisen related to the alleyway behind Robinson’s property. She told the council at its March 4 meeting that a post on her property line had been run over by a neighbor. Other times she stated the neighbors had driven across her property and even parked their vehicles in her yard and showed council members photos of the alleged infractions.
“It’s getting real frustrating,” she stated. “I’ve contacted (Marshal) Snodgrass and we are still having trouble getting any help from the police. I have filed complaints but nothing has been done.”
Council members expressed their frustration as well with Marshal Snodgrass, pointing out that there had been other complaints raised to the police chief that have gone unresolved.
Members pointed out that during the previous month, the council had questioned vehicle maintenance costs by the police department and had told the Marshal to have city workers perform the repairs to help lower costs. The mandate was apparently ignored, as one of the police cars was noticed at a commercial mechanic’s garage shortly after the meeting to discuss the problem.
The council expressed its frustration with the fact that the Marshal heads the city’s police department yet does not have to answer to the council because the job is an elected office.
“Several years ago we asked the voters to give the city the power to hire and fire the city marshal, to give us some authority over the police chief, but the people voted to keep it an elected office so our hands are tied as far as what the council can do,” stated Mayor Ron Alexander. “We just don’t have a lot of authority over the office.”
The council did agree that something should be done to help Robinson with her property issues.
“Everybody has to have boundaries,” stated Alderman Lucas Remley. “If they are driving on her yard then they should get a ticket.”
The council agreed and the aldermen stated that they would work personally to help resolve the issue, even if it meant that they had to be contacted in order to insure the police officer on duty responds to the scene to issue the necessary tickets.
In other business, the council awarded the bid for installation of siding and new windows at the Memphis Fire Station. The bid was awarded to Fox Construction of Memphis at a cost of $1950. The company indicated the work would begin by the middle of May.
The next lowest bid on the project was $4,961.20 from March Construction of Queen City. Other bids were received from J & B Construction, C & C Contracting and Jim Long Construction.
The council voted to accept the bid from Fox Construction, but due to the large price difference, wanted to insure its accuracy, leaving the issue open for future consideration.
Officer Mike Steeples presented the February activities report for the Memphis Police Department.
Officers investigated six motor-vehicle accidents and made 41 traffic stops. The department assisted on 17 animal calls and nine hospital, ambulance or helicopter responses. Officers performed 25 community security checks and investigated one theft case. The department received 281 telephone calls.
Superintendent Mike Ahland reported that Larry Humes had worked on the plant’s computer system and had resolved the touch-screen problems.
The Line Crew trimmed trees and other normal activities in February. Superintendent Dave Kittle discussed the purchase of a trencher for the department. He noted that $20,000 had been budgeted for the purchase but that he had located a used machine for $11,750.
Alderman Remley noted that the trencher would also be beneficial for the water department. Superintendent Dennis Howard said the trencher would be used to install one-inch water line and would save the city the expense of backfill and would cause less yard disturbance for the property owners.
The council voted 3-0 to authorize Kittle to purchase the used machine when it became available.
The Street Department did some minor repairs and hauled rock to be placed around mailboxes while also working on cleaning ditches.
The Water Department continues to install remote water meters. There were two water breaks in February.
Howard reported that he had completed his training and passed the DNR test to become a certified Waste Water Manager.
Howard also stated that the new pool equipment is beginning to arrive. The new diving board and the life guard towers have arrived and additional parts are on order. Howard stated he had visited the Bloomfield City Pool and reviewed the construction and the plumbing to prepare for the construction of the Memphis Pool.
Sparks Construction had surveyed the pool site in the last week of February and expected to begin work in March as soon as weather permitted. The council stated they are hoping for a July opening date.
Alderman Remley reported receiving comments regarding the odor of the city lagoon. Howard indicated that it was due to the seasonal change. He pointed out that the system was septic and with the ice melt that the odor was being released. He added that the lagoon needed to receive some rain followed up by some sunny weather to start the algae growing to allow the system to take care of itself.
Alderman Mike Stone noted that he was pleased to see the city square filling up with a pair of new businesses on the south side of the block.
Stone also raised the issue of litter in the city. He volunteered to meet with school representatives to see if any group’s needing community service would consider providing litter clean-up. The council also has had citizens and groups inquire about adopting streets and neighbors for clean-up. Stone will investigate this option as well.
Alderman Teresa Skinner also noted citizen complaints regarding trash. She also pointed out that the trash cans needed to be put out at the parks.
Mayor Alexander recommended changing the next meeting date from April 1 to April 8 due to the municipal election. The later date would allow the election results to be certified and the newly elected city officers to be sworn in at the meeting.
Alexander read a letter from Memphis Lumber. Owner H. Middleton praised the city’s snow removal work both on the city streets as well as at the airport.