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Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton on tourism, 'whole life' residents

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Unknown Speaker
Okay, all right. Hello when Welcome to Ask The Mayor on WFIU. I'm Joe hren. This week we have municipal consultant DAX Norton from Nashville, Indiana with us. Hello and welcome.

Unknown Speaker
How are you?

Unknown Speaker
Good, man. I'm okay. I'm here I have a cold. So my apologies to everyone. We'll try to keep this short. But the show must go on, as they say.

Unknown Speaker
Let's go on.

Unknown Speaker
Let's let's just start with, as we always do, just a quick COVID-19 update. I see Brown County now on the yellow advisory metric level from the state cases are going down. Over in Brown County. I believe it's a 10%, seven day all test positivity rate. Any instances there in a town in forts of any instances there of town enforcement of any store mask requirements, are you hearing anything like that? Are things going pretty well.

Unknown Speaker
Not hearing any of that. There are a lot of people in town have been for two, three weeks now. Coming to see leaves that are just now starting to turn. But now it seems to be very similar last year, very respectful folks. Haven't heard of any major incidents.

Unknown Speaker
Well, yeah, and I was gonna ask about that because it I turned on the Nashville leaf cam. And see most of the trees are green, just like here in Bloomington is some weird weather. But it sounds like people are still flocking to Brown County.

Unknown Speaker
In beautiful weather. It's been very busy. We anticipated to be probably two or three fold times more busy in the next two to three weeks with this delay and fall, which is nice. I think it's actually an added bonus for the business owners because you get more time for people to come down and maybe change a plan that you didn't necessarily have for maybe a weekend November as well or two. So a lot of people through with a good weather they've been excited to be there. I know that it was difficult to drive around. town I think it was last week. Even I mean, you start even in the beginning of the you know, early in the week, not necessarily towards the weekend. It was it was a very packed house. Very exciting.

Unknown Speaker
I wanted to ask you about this proposed housing development near Nashville, one of our reporters talked to you last week, I believe that, as you said could benefit the town in all of Brown County by attracting more residents increasing the population. We did we talked about housing stock, maybe not last month, but a little bit a while ago, but it's this area I'm talking about is where the little Nashville Opry was and had burned down in 2009. What does this mean to Nashville to add housing stock and and what area are you have residents are you targeting?

Unknown Speaker
I think we're targeting, you know, I mentioned your reporter whole life, become a whole life community. And that means you have to have housing that's attainable for someone fresh, either out of high school with a skill, well, even if they're out of high school and chosen stay in the community and have a good job, make good wage. They're now living with their parents, they obviously have a place to go. It's really hard to attain right now. And then of course, you have that starter residence with you know, somebody who's either graduated with a certificate or a skill, which is incredibly important in this day and age or four year degree, whatever that may be starting their lives. And you go from that obviously, you know, all the way to retirement. So what's lacking is the whole life ability. And so I think that the multifamily housing brings an element to the county that may not exist completely. There are multi hop, multifamily housing developments, some of those are income based, which is tax credit projects. Those are very nice as well. Some of those are retirement based. Some of those are assisted living based, kind of a lack of product for that beginning of life based products. So that's really kind of what this development I think we'll be geared towards.

Unknown Speaker
Is this part of a trend that you're seeing in increasing residential areas there in Brown County because I thought what was interesting in that article Was that you mentioned how a lot of the housing has some of the housing has been decreasing due to vacation rentals, nothing I didn't think about.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, a lot, a lot of decreases in available single family housing units because of turning those into vacation rentals. And I guess some of the condos go that way as well. Um, not much you can do necessarily to stop that progress. And so this would add an element of, you know, apartment living quality. A lot of people in one small place, that's, you know, from a sustainability perspective, you're not sprawling out, you're not just not a county in town, and we want to sprawl out in, we want to protect the integrity of what is the ability of Nashville and the county, what it's about, you know, the old Opry was here, there's a, there's already some multi unit buildings near or on the site. And then if you could put people that there, you know, put 194 units on three acres, leasing fire don't have to spread out far to serve those, those residents that water and sewer doesn't necessarily all they get to run in water and sewer, their water sewer kind of needs to be there in the first place waters there. It's really the sewer, sewer that's missing. And so to get sanitary sewer there and get people off septic, obviously is a is an EPA mandate. I'd love to see that. See that happen? So a lot of positives are obviously always a con or negative when you look at the planning process, traffic going to a busy highway. You know, just it's there's floodplain issues on the site. But it's you know, it's better than what it is now, which is a weed tree infested asphalt law. So

Unknown Speaker
How difficult will it be to get a sewer line out there?

Unknown Speaker
We don't think very difficult when we actually don't think very expensive. When I say very expensive. I'm talking in the low 1.21 point 3 million. I know for some people that sounds credibly expensive, but you're going up and over a hill, very rocky terrain to an area that, quite frankly needs sanitary sewer services. So big scheme of things. But the you know, the amount of assets and utility owns. That's a I won't say a raindrop in the ocean or drop in the bucket. But it's not a huge expense.

Unknown Speaker
But kind of this goes along with what we've been talking about more housing, more infrastructure, I did see in the Brown County Democrat about water rates going up. When does that take effect? And what's that being used for?

Unknown Speaker
Um, well, actually, that's it. It's almost a pastor. It's really what's called tracker. It's a wholesale rate tracker. What it is, is back in 2020, Brown County Water went to the iurc. There was some negotiations there, they raised their water rate to us by $1.71, National municipal utilities did nothing about pass that on to the customer. Until now utility service board said wait a minute, we probably should, you know, probably shouldn't do that to be whole. And so that's really what that is. And then there was another fee ordinance really that was passed, I think to hook on a sewer or was $6,200 to buy a lift station. Essentially, those lift stations were costing the utility $6,400. So no need to lose $200 from each lift station. So they raised a couple fees. That wasn't the only one really a minimal increase on that wholesale tracker. The tracker as you know, Tracker can also be used to decrease the wholesale cost with a decrease now. If that's ever happened in the history of history, I'd like to see it. I mean, everything is increasing in value in price, including the provision of water and wastewater.

Unknown Speaker
You know, that's something we talked about two is how much grants are important to fund a lot of this aging infrastructure. And I see the town was awarded the $2 million for a wastewater treatment.

Unknown Speaker
Yes, sanitary sewer Rehabilitation Project, which towns under an agreed order for mining to fix a couple things. One of those is stormwater or rainwater infiltration into the system. That's due to aging, sewer mains and sewer pipes. pipes in the ground have cracks and receive that water. And then some some issues in the plant to move some facilities out of the floodplain pi plant has a hill or an elevated area that can be moved around a lift station and some additional infrastructure it's needed for the hook on to the DNR State Park to service them with with sanitary sewer as a $2 million total project of 6.6 million Utility Service Board and council are now you know talking about well, where are we are we come up with the other 4.6 we have to do the whole project can be done in phases. What's the rate impact, they took out a bond slash loan for the 4.6 over 20 year period of 30 year period a 40 year period there are some providers will give the utility in the municipality a 40 year term, Miss Patty already worked with USDA rd, they've already got some 40 year term, loan slash bonds out there. So those are the discussions that are being had right now it'd be very good to get that done. And once that's done sanitary sewer side is pretty whole. And you bring on a pretty large customer in the state park. And obviously, when the element comes on, you get more customers and maybe that will help maintain rates over time. I will never ever say reduce. It's just very hard to do that with inflation rates not having been raised for a long time. It's hard to say those words. So

Unknown Speaker
there were a couple other committee talk there. I don't know, I guess a couple other committees being talked about there in Nashville Town Council is short term noise, ordinance and a skateboard ordinance. So I was wondering if you could just fill us in on those two things.

Unknown Speaker
On the noise ordinance is a it's kind of been an ongoing issue through 2020 and 2021. It it kind of came back up with hard truths hills, I don't want to pick on them. As lead, let's just say as live music comes to multiple venues across the town, and the county. The terrain is such that some people can't hear it at all. And sometimes that sound carries into people's windows and it's like you're sitting on top of stage. And so, you know, rightly so some people have asked, Hey, how do we work together? regulate this process. And so the council I think did a good job. I didn't use the word Citizen Action Committee or CAC. But seriously, that's what they're creating a group of people to get together instead of arguing and bickering on, you know, the Facebook's of the world, which really are about as anti productive as anything on earth. To get together. People on both sides, people who want an ordinance people who don't like music, people who don't. People who liked music in moderation. I think it's a good thing for the town and the county for this to be happening. Same thing with you know, there's another one skateboards are prohibited back in the thing was 80s 90s. Some people said, hey, hey, you know, there's there's I know, there's a president in town that uses a skateboard as their mode of transportation. And so it's time to look at that really vetted out, make some good decisions and put policy in front of the council that's already been vetted by the community by some council members, my staff, and they can pass good policy after that. So I'm the committee idea. The Town Council is going to start having quarterly town halls. We're going to have discussions just with people are really the community gets to speak. Town Council gets to listen as opposed to council meetings really are about the council's business, although it is the people's business council has things to do. This is these town halls are going to be all about just tell us talk to us give us ideas. What's good, what's bad, what's in different, what can be vetted, what pros and cons. think there'll be very productive and probably in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce.

Unknown Speaker
Great, something we'll have to keep in touch about. Did you have any other announcements or anything else there in Nashville that you'd like to talk about?

Unknown Speaker
Music Center's open. Visitors are coming town looks great. You know pushes for the main street group to to get to deuce. Do some additional things. pushes for I mean Chris Crennel Chris Kindler is coming up. It's going to be a great event. There are others I'm probably missing here. As I think I always say this because I kind of have to come see us. That's how. That's how we survive. So come see us be courteous. Take care careful when you're walking on the streets. We need some pedestrian infrastructure bill. Give us time. Are we getting there? No. Happy fall.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. And that Chris Kendall Mark market that's new. Isn't that this winter?

Unknown Speaker
New lot of energy behind it. I know they're seeking sponsors and financial systems. And so I would urge anybody to get a hold of them and it'll be a great thing for the community and

Unknown Speaker
kind of keep that tourism going throughout the winter months. Thank you again, so much. Appreciate your time, and we'll see you next time.

Unknown Speaker
We'll see you.

Unknown Speaker
Alright, take care. Bye bye.
Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton

Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton on Tuesday's Zoom Interview (Zoom)

Tourists are still flocking to Nashville despite the delay of autumn colors. A new proposed development means housing options for keeping young residents in the community.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Nashville's Municipal Consultant Dax Norton addresses these issues and more. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren:  Let's let's just start with a quick COVID-19 update. I see Brown County is now on the yellow advisory metric level from the state, cases are going down. It's a 10%, seven day all test positivity rate. Any instances there in town of enforcement of any store mask requirements, are you hearing anything like that?

Norton: Not hearing any of that. There are a lot of people in town - have been for two, three weeks now. Coming to see leaves that are just now starting to turn. But now it seems to be very similar last year, very respectful folks. Haven't heard of any major incidents.

READ MORE: Indiana eclipses 16,000 dead, but sees rate slow as new cases continue to fall

Hren: I turned on the Nashville leaf cam and see most of the trees are green, just like here in Bloomington. But it sounds like people are still flocking to Brown County?

Norton: Beautiful weather. It's been very busy. We anticipate to be probably two or three fold times more busy in the next two to three weeks with this delay in the fall colors, which is nice. I think it's actually an added bonus for the business owners because you get more time for people to come down and maybe change a plan that you didn't necessarily have for maybe a weekend November as well or two.

I know that it was difficult to drive around town I think it was last week. You start even in the beginning of the week, not necessarily towards the weekend. It was a very packed house. Very exciting.

Hren: I wanted to ask you about this proposed housing development near Nashville, one of our reporters talked to you last week, as you said could benefit the town and all of Brown County by attracting more residents. The area I'm talking about is where the little Nashville Opry was and burned down in 2009. What does this mean to Nashville to add housing stock and what residents are you targeting?

Norton: I mentioned to your reporter whole life, become a whole life community. And that means you have to have housing that's attainable for someone fresh, either out of high school with a skill, well, even if they're out of high school and chosen stay in the community and have a good job, make good wage.

They're now living with their parents, they obviously have no place to go. It's really hard to attain right now. And then of course, you have that starter residence with somebody who's either graduated with a certificate or a skill, which is incredibly important in this day and age or four year degree, whatever that may be starting their lives.

And you go from that all the way to retirement. So what's lacking is the whole life ability. And so I think that the multifamily housing brings an element to the county that may not exist completely. 

opry
Archival photo of Little Nashville Opry site. (WFIU/WTIU News)

Hren: Is this part of a trend that you're seeing in increasing residential areas there in Brown County?

Norton: A lot of decreases in available single family housing units because of turning those into vacation rentals. And I guess some of the condos go that way as well. Not much you can do necessarily to stop that progress.

From a sustainability perspective, you're not sprawling out, and then if you could put 194 units on three acres, police and fire don't have to spread, water and sewer - it's really the sewer that's missing. And so to get sanitary sewer there and get people off septic, obviously is an EPA mandate. I'd love to see that.

Obviously always a negative when you look at the planning process, traffic going to a busy highway. There's floodplain issues on the site. But it's better than what it is now, which is a weed infested asphalt lot.

Hren: Something we talked about last time was how much grants are important to fund a lot of this aging infrastructure. And I see the town was awarded $2 million for wastewater treatment.

Norton: Yes, Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project, which towns under an agreed order from IDEM to fix a couple things. One of those is stormwater or rainwater infiltration into the system. That's due to aging, sewer mains and sewer pipes and then some issues in the plant to move some facilities out of the floodplain and some additional infrastructure for the hook on to the DNR State Park to service them with sanitary sewer as a $2 million total project of $6.6 million.

Utility Service Board and council are now talking about well, where are we to come up with the other $4.6 million we have to do the whole project - it can be done in phases. What's the rate impact, they took out a bond slash loan for the $4.6 million over a 20 year period, a 30 year period, a 40 year period. And once that's done sanitary sewer side is pretty whole. And you bring on a pretty large customer in the state park.

1200px-parque_estatal_brown_county,_indiana,_estados_unidos,_2012-10-14,_dd_10.jpg
Archival photo Brown Co. State Park. The DNR is looking to tap into the town's water utility for future service. (WFIU/WTIU News)

Hren: A recent town meeting brought up a couple committees being formed, one is a short-term noise ordinance and the other a skateboard ordinance.

READ MORE: Is Music At Nashville's Hard Truth Hills A Problem? Council Will Wait To Decide

Norton: On the noise ordinance is a it's kind of been an ongoing issue through 2020 and 2021. It it kind of came back up with Hard Truth Hills, I don't want to pick on them. Let's just say as live music comes to multiple venues across the town, and the county, the terrain is such that some people can't hear it at all. And sometimes that sound carries into people's windows and it's like you're sitting on top of stage.

They're creating a group of people to get together instead of arguing and bickering on the Facebook's of the world, which really are about as anti-productive as anything on earth, to get together. People on both sides, people who want an ordinance, people who don't like music, people who like music in moderation.

Skateboards are prohibited back in the 80s, 90s. Some people said, hey there's a resident in town that uses a skateboard as their mode of transportation. And so it's time to look at that - put policy in front of the council that's already been vetted by the community by some council members, my staff, and they can pass good policy after that.

The Town Council is going to start having quarterly town halls. We're going to have discussions just with people. Town Council gets to listen as opposed to council meetings really are about the council's business, although it is the people's business council has things to do. I think there'll be very productive.

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