A Smithville man came before the mayor and aldermen Monday night asking that a small narrow bridge accessing his property from Holmes Creek Road, be maintained by the city.
Jamie Bullard of 435 Holmes Creek Road says since the city has to cross the bridge to access public utilities, the city should help him maintain it, even though he and another person own the bridge. "What I've got, basically, is a bridge that my neighbor and I have to maintain. We have to maintain this for the city to cross. All these utilities are on the other side. I've asked the city for four years to help me fix this bridge. The city tells me it's a private bridge, even though your (city) employees cross it. We have a UCHRA van that hauls anywhere from five to ten handicapped children and they cross this bridge. We have the electric company that crosses the bridge. Natural gas (company) crosses the bridge. And we've even got the police officers that cross the bridge. What I'm saying is that I had to buy this access across the bridge. I don't mind the city crossing this bridge for all your utilities, for your man holes, and for everything else. But there's no reason why I should pay for the utilities and pay for a bridge for you to cross, and you don't help me."
City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. told Bullard that the city could not legally spend public funds on private property. "You've just said that the bridge is private property, yours and someone else's, Ms Walker's. The city cannot repair or replace a bridge that they don't own."
Bullard said if the city was not willing to help him, then he might not let the city cross the bridge to get to those utilities.
Parsley said the city has easements and Bullard could not refuse the city access. "At some point in time the city acquired an easement, either on paper or by prescriptive rights by the use. Somebody gave it to them (city). Maybe they didn't do the proper documentation but those (easements) were there before you (Bullard) ever moved in. You can't cut the city off from using an easement to maintain that line."
Bullard responded, "The easement that the city uses to get to my water meter was not there prior to my being there. It was put in there since I've been there and I bought that easement."
Parsley asked, "Then you own the easement for the bridge and you're saying you own the bridge, you and this other lady?"
"Yes sir" answered Bullard.
Parsley continued, "Then the city doesn't have a legal obligation to repair that bridge."
Bullard replied, "That's right and I don't have a legal obligation to allow the city to cross my bridge."
Parlsey concluded, "You can't stop the city from maintaining their easement."
Alderman Willie Thomas made a motion that the city conduct some research and revisit the issue at another meeting. Alderman Tonya Sullivan seconded the motion "to research where the city's easement is located and what we have to do to maintain our easement."
Meanwhile Bullard accused Mayor Taft Hendrixson of favoritism. He claims the city did some work in the area and that a relative of the mayor benefitted from it. "I see a lot of special favors being given to a lot of people. Mayor, you just told me that you cleaned out under the bridge on Holmes Creek Road. I looked under that bridge and it is not cleaned out. But what you did was you dug your cousin a new creek and you built it up with gravel."
Mayor Hendrixson denies the allegation. "Those gravels were put on a sewer line that was washed out and being exposed.
Parsley said the state instructed the city to do some clean out work around the Holmes Creek Bridge. "The state sent the city a letter. They (state) had inspected the bridge there and they required the city to keep that clean. The city responded by getting their crew to clean the debris out so it would pass inspection. I believe they also put a load limit on that bridge that was required by the state. They were also required to send a photograph showing that the bridge had been posted and that the debris under it had been cleaned out. So that's the reason that area was cleaned."