Board awards contract to Lakeland firm for design of transportation Master Plan

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously awarded a contract for the design of Phase I of the town’s Surface Transportation Master Plan.
Board members took the action during their Sept. 17 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Billy Ray Morris and seconded by Alderman Karl Chambless.
The contract was awarded to A2H of Lakeland for $31,000. It will provide planning, civil and traffic engineering, as well as landscape architectural services for preparation of a multi-phase plan for the town.
The board has recognized the need for a study to identify “future means of transportation” desired by the town’s residents. It will seek funding from the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Program for additional phases of the plan.
The study will identify pedestrian, bicycle, vehicular connections and future multi-modal projects focusing on Oakland’s downtown area. The projects will be prioritized by the town through a “public input” process.
During discussion shortly before the vote, Mayor Chris Goodman noted that a Master Plan is typically a “living and growing” document. He said the contract will start the process with some “audits of the roads” and preliminary steps to begin initial meetings with the staff, as well as the stakeholders and property owners throughout the area.
Goodman said A2H expects the Site Inventory and Analysis to be completed within one month after execution of the contract and the Downtown Master Plan after an additional month. He noted that the $31,000 has been allocated in the town’s 2015-16 budget.
Morris asked whether the cost of the project will be paid in “installments” to ensure that the job has been done. Noting that A2H will “invoice” Oakland at certain stages of the process, Goodman said the town will not pay for services that it does not receive.
In response to another question by Morris, the mayor said Town Attorney Richard Myers is involved in executing all of Oakland’s contracts, and the administration relies “very heavily” on his expertise.
Citing the board’s vote to pursue the possibility of purchasing vacant property at 7355 Highway 64, Alderman John Troncone asked Goodman whether that needs to be included in the project.
“I would see that coming in as Phase II,” the mayor replied, “as we start actually mapping out the corridor plan for Highway 64.”
Alderman Kelly Rector said he does not think it is “relevant” whether revitalizing the downtown area will include a new Town Hall.
“If it’s the board’s wish to revitalize it, I say move forward with the proposal that A2H is looking at,” he said. “I think it does need to be revitalized, and I would like to see our options as to how that’s going to play out.”
Noting that some residents from Hickory Withe were at the meeting, Morris asked whether the Master Plan will be extended to include their area. Because the plan is for the “community,” Goodman acknowledged that it will be from “end to end.”
“So, it will encompass the whole area,” he said. “This isn’t something that’s going to be done in two months and put on the shelf.”
In response to another question by Morris, the mayor said the contract states that A2H will assist Oakland in conducting public meetings on the project. The dates and times will be published in the newspaper and posted on the town’s Web site.
“You can’t have an effective Master Plan without the buy-in from the property owners as well as the citizens,” he said. “If you try to do it without involving them, what you’re going to have is a wasted piece of paper.”
Goodman recommended that the initial meeting with A2H be arranged when the board members can attend it and offer their opinions.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to spend more than $30,000 to make this happen,” he concluded. “But we need to have a plan and direction for the next period moving forward for the town.”