Mayor McFarland Delivers the 2024 ‘State of the City’

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Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland discusses Parks & Recreation projects, downtown redevelopment, solid waste solutions, road and bridge projects, the award-winning Municipal Airport, and economic development in his 2024 ‘State of the City’ address.

Citizens can begin watching the State of the City at 7 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2024, a free-flowing discussion with Public Information Officer Mike Browning. The ‘State of the City,’ produced by Michael Nevills, is airing on CityTV and available to watch on Facebook and YouTube at https://youtu.be/dwbkN0yE5-4

“The State of the City of Murfreesboro is good, said Mayor Shane McFarland. “The City of Murfreesboro is in the best financial shape that we have ever been in. We’ve had to make some major tough decisions over the last seven to eight years, but those decisions are coming to fruition. Our audit was one of the best audits we’ve ever had. Our tax rate is one of the lowest tax rates in the state.”

Mayor McFarland addresses accomplishments and challenges in managing a growing city, particularly downtown redevelopment, infrastructure needs and parks amenities. The 60-minute “State of the City” can also be viewed in shorter segments on YouTube and Facebook, including video vignettes from City directors:

Downtown Redevelopment, a discussion of how the $175 million Keystone mixed-use redevelopment project on Broad and Church streets, including the daylight of Town Creek for an urban park, will spur residential living in the downtown area. https://youtu.be/IM51ZTmdCh0

“The more you talk about these things, it’s important that we keep a vibrant downtown,” said McFarland. Small business downtown will benefit from increased development and traffic downtown. The developer recognized the genesis that is happening in our downtown area.”

Video: As part of downtown redevelopment, the Water Resources Department is relocating its office and customer services to the old Guarantee Trust Building at 316 Robert Rose. Assistant City Manager Darren Gore and Water Resources staff feature enhanced customer service being constructed at the new location.

Transfer Station, a discussion of construction at 2129 Butler Drive, off Joe B. Jackson Pkwy., for a new facility to process solid waste for transfer out of the County with Middle Point Landfill closing. Watch this segment here: https://youtu.be/ixxMsR9bg-8

“This Transfer Station is a negative pressure building that is built where the trucks will pull in, tip their trash, then get back on the road,” said McFarland. “It’s self-enclosed, there’s no smell issues, there’s no waste issues, no runoff issues, and then we put all of that into a semi-truck and then we take it to the landfill.”

McFarland also discusses the potential, with permitting approval, for a WastAway process to recycle solid waste into an SE3 product to be used in coal and cement kilns. The production of renewable natural gas could also be part of the possible privately funded, environmentally friendly process.

“That’s not going to be financed by the government. We would end up being a long-term user of taking the trash, but we’ve been very clear that we’re not in the speculation business. That needs to be done on the private sector,” said McFarland. “I can see a private-public partnership where we are supplying the material, and we’ve got plenty of it, but the private company would have to be able to handle the rest of that.”

Video: Public Works Executive Director Raymond Hillis provides a wrap-up of the Street and Public Works response to the January 2024 winter snowstorm.

Major Road and Bridge Projects to ease traffic congestion, a discussion that highlights the Beasie Road/River Rock Blvd. Bridge Project, Butler Drive, Hwy 96, Medical Center Blvd., New Salem/ Hwy 99 Phase II and III, and Cherry Lane, Phase II & III. Watch here: https://youtu.be/k3R-1FmdvD8

“We spend 80 percent of our borrowings, 80 percent of our Capital Improvement plans are all spent on transportation projects,” said McFarland. “To the resident that’s out there, we want road projects and roadways to be improved. Last count, I think we had 54 Road Projects that we’re going on inside the City of Murfreesboro, but if I had one wish for the City of Murfreesboro it would be to snap your finger and all the road projects be done at one time.”

The busy Medical Center Parkway is currently being widened from 4 to 6 lanes.

“You’re also going to see from Thompson Lane back to Broad Street, Medical Center improvements,” said McFarland. “It’s an entire, overall plan and the good news is that Medical Center is a City road so road improvements can typically move quicker than the other roads.”

Mayor McFarland says City is currently conducting right-of-way acquisition for Cherry Lane that will dramatically change traffic flow in the northern part of Murfreesboro, relieving congestion off Broad and Thompson Lane.

“To relieve traffic on Broad Street, there will not be a better project than Cherry Lane,” said McFarland. “The City Council has really increased the funding on that project. We have right-of-way acquisition, the State is an integral partner on this, so we’re really working hard on it.”

Video: Assistant Transportation Director Russ Brashear provides an update on construction of a new Murfreesboro Transit Center on Bridge Ave. and New Salem Hwy. after groundbreaking in October 2023. A new passenger pavilion, administration building and parking lot are well underway.

Parks & Recreation Department Projects, a discussion of Veterans Park design planning and construction at Old Fort Park for a new Skate Park and Pump Track. Watch segment: https://youtu.be/J6kS7TzcYIQ

“We decided instead of calling it West Park, since it’s on Veterans Parkway, it would be great to call it Veterans Park. We’re going through the process of where it’s going to end up being more of a community park with open space, walking trails, pavilions, sport courts, more of a community feel,” said McFarland. “We already had 9 million dollars that we set aside that we don’t have to borrow that we’ve been able to save up to go to the project.”

McFarland also discusses the need for more ballfields that could be developed on 127 acres the city owns on Hwy 96 and a new Skate Park/Pump Track nearing completion in Old Fort Park.

“It’s a Skate Park and a Pump Track. For those of you who are wondering what a Pump Track is, it’s something that is co-mingled together where you can also ride bicycles on that track as well,” said McFarland. “Finding ways to keep kids outside to be engaged is way better than the alternative. I’m not ever going to apologize for finding ways that we keep our youth and community active. If we have an active youth, active families in the community, that’s good for everything.”

Video: Golf Department Director Trey Adams shows us what’s happening during renovation of Old Fort Golf Course, where bunker and green renovations will significantly enhance course play when the course reopens in September. The Clubhouse, driving range, and youth programs remain active.

Murfreesboro Municipal Airport, with a discussion of the FAA and State awards the airport recently received, runway and taxiway improvements, and plans for a new Air Traffic Control Tower. Watch here: https://youtu.be/-HBBqkoQKBo

“Typically, we were told it would take two to three years for the FAA to approve the Tower application,” said McFarland. “But with all the data that we had put together, they approved ours in about four and a half to five months. It was a big step for us to be able to do that.”

After considerable discussion about growth, MTSU will be relocating its Aviation Program with a $70 million expansion in Shelbyville by 2026. Mayor McFarland sees significant growth at the Murfreesboro airport over the next two to three years.

“MTSU is welcome in this community. MTSU is a valuable team member and a valuable partner in our community, but as we grow and as they grow, it’s OK to say what you want and what the City of Murfreesboro wants, that’s not the same.”

Mayor McFarland pointed out that Murfreesboro Municipal Airport is a single runway airport surrounded by neighborhoods. “We could just not accommodate getting larger and larger.”

Video: Public Safety Public Information Officer Larry Flowers updates projects from the Police, Fire Rescue, and Emergency Communications teams, including the Real-time Crime Center, traffic safety, community outreach, paramedic training, and automatic 9-1-1 call distribution.

Economic Development and the financial State of the City, showing that despite continued population growth, the City is in solid financial shape. Watch: https://youtu.be/lDLefPg96zM

“Our Sales Tax, we’ve either been level or above what we budgeted every month,” said McFarland. “We’ve got almost 130 million in our rainy-day fund now and the reason we did that is when those storms come, we’ve got the ability that we don’t necessarily have to be able to raise taxes to be able to accommodate the things we have.”

Looking out over the next five years, McFarland says it’s hard to confidently predict finances because you don’t always know what tomorrow will bring, citing the pandemic.

“We budgeted that we would have a 6-month cut in our revenue, and during Covid we went up in our sales tax collections. The growth, with so many people moving here from the West coast and the East coast that are coming to Tennessee and the South that are moving here for the quality of life. That has been a challenge,” stated McFarland. “With everything we know still needs to be improve, we live in a great community.”

The State of the City address was videotaped and produced by our nationally award-winning CityTV team. Murfreesboro CityTV is available on Comcast Xfinity Channels 3 and 1094, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Mobile devices via the App store, and the City Website www.murfreesborotn.gov/citytv.

For City News online, visit www.Murfreesborotn.gov.

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