In this interview with the Home Page, Thompson's Station Mayor Corey Napier looked back on what turned out to be a trying year, noting that despite the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the rural town made great strides in a number of critical infrastructure projects.
What was the Thompson's Station's greatest accomplishment in 2020?
I think one of the big ones is that we're at 90 percent for the development on our new sewer system called the MBR (membrane ioreactor). That's been an ongoing conversation in the community for a number of years, and so we've had to hustle to not only get drip land, but also to make a strategic decision about the processing infrastructure.
We are well down the road, and this year we'll be looking at how to fund it and get on with the construction of it. So that's a big accomplishment. I think the bottom line is we're doing what we need to do, and we're on pace to take care of business on the sewer side.
Equally, the Critz Lane project; that's huge too for so many people. We didn't know that the school system was going to drop two schools on Clayton Arnold Road until a few years ago, and so the town has to accommodate infrastructure that makes safe routes to school. We've been hustling to get the Critz Lane right-of-ways, the greenway trail and the safe route to school taken care of.
It's going to take a couple more years, but the reality is it's underway; engineering's done, construction will begin this year.
What's the progress on the Graystone Quarry Amphitheater?
They're moving ahead with the construction, I was out on site about [two] months ago and got a glimpse of their progress, and it's impressive.
It's going to be an exciting amenity for all of Middle Tennessee, people will come from all over the country to events there I think. In a worldwide pandemic, it's probably going to be a good option for people that want to socially distance. Spring, summer [this] year, stay tuned.
What was the largest challenge of 2020?
The biggest challenge obviously revolves around getting people on the same sheet, communicating and trying to protect the safety of the community.
We had to adapt; we're a smaller town, but the good news was we were able to adjust our work habits and board meetings. That doesn't mean we didn't have our challenges, but we watched and learned with others.
I'm very proud that most of the mayors in our community have all stepped up and said [to] respect your fellow human being and wear a mask. I think maybe history will treat us kindly that we were doing what we felt was the best thing we could do.
How do you balance keeping people safe with respecting citizens' personal liberties?
It comes down to 'it's not about me.' I look at it from a matter of what's respectful, and I gravitate on always listening to the science; I listen to people smarter than me on things related to this topic.
It really is that bottom line for me; I don't want to be a responsible party, a carrier knowingly that puts people in harm.
Do you think public events will return this year in Thompson's Station?
Back to social distancing and picking your battles on what's most important, some things just didn't make sense to encourage [like] large gatherings. This was a big anniversary for our town too, I think it was our 30th anniversary, and we canceled anything related to recognizing that.
What will be the town's focus this year?
We need to carry on with finalizing things around this sewer approach, and that's important. Then other thing like the greenway trails.
The economic development side continues to be a real opportunity for us, certainly as we get through the final nicks and picks on the sewer approach. We've got the Graystone Quarry stuff going on, and I think we'd all like to see some additional commercial development that helps create a sustainable revenue model.
And we've actually done better in 2020 than in prior years revenue wise, we're above budget. We're not having the issues that Nashville's having, we're actually putting away some additional cash because of increased sales tax receipts and property taxes because we have so many people buying houses.
Hopefully some of that will continue, but you're naïve with all the growth to think that infrastructure is free, so we need to continue to work on strategic ways to recruit folks that help generate sales tax dollars for us. So that's a focus.
What might you say about Thompson's Station's ability to make it through these trying times?
The reality is we are very blessed in our community - whether it's Thompson's Station or greater Williamson County - in that most of us have an easy choice. We can stay home, we're not living in congested urban downtown areas using elevator shafts to get up and down to where we live.
My encouragement is [for] people to just hang in there. Let's get this virus vaccine a chance to do its work - be patient, enjoy the great outdoors that is offered up in our part of the world, and love one another.