The project could be the first step to bringing water and sewage to Tamina


The City of Shenandoah plans to use just over $700,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to launch an effort that could finally bring new water and sewer services to the community of Tamina, TN. southern Montgomery County.

The city recently issued a Request for Qualifications for the project which will construct a 1,700-foot 12-inch water line to the Union Pacific railroad tracks and extend the existing 1,200-foot sewer line to at Easley Road.

“I can’t think of any other community that could use American Rescue Plan more than the community of Tamina,” Mayor Ritch Wheeler said at a recent council meeting. “It doesn’t solve all the problems, but it brings us a little closer. I think it’s a great project for these funds.

City estimates indicate the project will cost $713,700. The city is expected to receive a minimum of $740,136.64 in ARPA funds. Shenandoah received its first installment of $370,068.32 and will receive a second installment in August.

Conditions in the predominantly African-American community, founded by emancipated slaves in 1871, reflect decades of inadequate public services.

Unless a solution is found, say community leaders, one of the nation’s last “freedmen’s towns” faces a slow death from attrition as older residents die and lack of critical infrastructure discourages new investment.

“My mother, God rest her soul, Della Henry, has been on the water, septic and sewer committee all her life and we never got the services the community should have had” , said Rita Wiltz, a longtime resident of Tamina. “We are there and we still haven’t received the services yet.”

Elijah Easley, president of the Tamina Cemetery Project Community Development Corp., said the project is good news for the community.

“This is a very positive step for Tamina to receive the same economic development treatment as any other part of Montgomery County,” Easley said. “He’s been left behind but I’m really grateful that everyone is coming together and seeing Tamina as part of the county.”

Wiltz welcomes any improvements, but like many locals, he is skeptical of the project. She added that there must be long-term plans that would help residents east of the train tracks.

“What is the 10-year plan? ” she says. “What about the infrastructure that goes with it to make sure it can be scaled?”

Easley said Tamina residents are “rightly hesitant”.

“Think about it,” he said. “This sewer project has been promised for 30-35 years. We are in 2022, not in 1922. In 2020, we should be at a level where the basic infrastructures should be in place.

Shenandoah Director of Public Works Joseph Peart said the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction ends at the railroad tracks. Additionally, he said, extending the sewer would require a lift station due to the elevation of this area.

As for timing, Peart said the city is finalizing ARPA’s funding requirements, but once they’re approved, the city will put the project out to competition for design and then construction.

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